The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has threatened to sue the Nigerian government if it fails to revert its decision to suspend Twitter operations indefinitely in the country.
TOS News reported on Friday that the federal government, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed announced indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
The government had announced the suspension barely 48 hours after the microblogging site deleted a controversial post by President Muhammadu Buhari, referencing the country’s civil war, and threatening to treat those attacking government buildings “with the language they understand.”
Meanwhile, the NBA President, Olumide Apata, has expressed the concerns of his association on the decision of government.
According to him, the implications, extend to “the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium.”
He said, “There is no Nigerian law that can be cited in support of the ban.”
“The Nigerian Bar Association finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and deprive Nigerians of their right to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions. Beyond the dent on our constitutional democracy, at a time when the Nigerian economy is unarguably struggling, the impact of arbitrary decisions such as this on investor confidence is better imagined.
“Consequently, if this decision is not immediately reversed, the Nigerian Bar Association will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and our democracy,” he said.
Also, the Civil Society Consortium on Civic Space has expressed shock on the decision of the Buhari led administration to suspend Twitter.
The CSC in a press release obtained by TOS News on Saturday, said the Buhari-led regime has consistently demonstrated its lack of temperament and intellectual capacity to govern a modern democracy where dissenting voices matter, adding that the administration cannot continue to pick and choose which part of the constitution it wants to obey when it indeed swore to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The statement reads partly: “The Civil Society Consortium on Civic Space received with consternation the news of the decision of the regime of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Twitter in Nigeria. Over the years, Twitter has become one of the drivers of freedom of expression, speech and Assembly not just in Nigeria but all over the world. It is shameful that in its desperate bid and determination to destroy the largest democracy in Africa, the Federal Government of Nigeria is exploring undemocratic means to not just gag its citizens but to subdue them.
“The Buhari-led regime has consistently demonstrated its lack of temperament and intellectual capacity to govern a modern democracy where dissenting voices matter. Leadership attracts criticism, criticism is the bedrock of modern democracy and if the president lacks the temperament to accept criticism from dissenting voices, then he has no right being a democratically elected president. He should either resign or let the citizens know that he has staged a coup against his own democratically elected government by announcing himself as a military junta, that way we can deal with the administration as such.
“The Federal Government led by President Buhari cannot continue to pick and choose which part of the constitution he wants to obey when he indeed swore to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The suspension of Twitter is not just an illegality, it is an attack on free speech, it is an attack on the rights of every citizen of Nigeria that uses the platform for either business or any form of expression.
According to Statista, 61.4% of about 28million social media users in Nigeria in 2020 use it for Business, Communication, Entertainment, Professional Development among others. This ban on twitter and the proposed regulation of OTT will not help businesses thrive in an already battered economy with no responsive leadership.”
The CSC, therefore, has called on General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to immediately reverse the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.