Group Writes Buhari to Reverse Suspension Order on Twitter - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Group Writes Buhari to Reverse Suspension Order on Twitter

Human rights and advocacy group, Paradigm Initiative (PIN), has written President Muhammadu Buhari over the continued suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

While appealing to the federal government to rescind its suspension order on the microblogging platform, to enable Nigerians disseminate information freely, using their twitter handle.

The group, which also copied the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in the letter, appealed to the president to rescind the suspension on the social media network, Twitter which was announced by the federal government on June 4, 2021.

According to the letter signed by the CEO of PIN, Mr. Gbenga Sesan,

“Twitter, just like many other digital and social media platforms, has become a space for Nigerians to communicate, seek and disseminate information, engage in public debates and legitimate businesses. Like many other governments across the globe, the Nigerian government has leveraged social media platforms to issue critical public information.

“A recent demonstration of this is the use of Twitter by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to issue information related to the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Currently the NCDC Twitter account has a following of 1.1 million. This is an acknowledgement of the importance of social media in reaching a significant proportion of the Nigerian population.

“Since the suspension of Twitter services, Nigerians have experienced violations of the freedom to exercise their human rights online.”

The letter further stated: “Growing Nigeria’s digital economy is one of the stated priorities of the current administration which is to help put an end to poverty and mitigate Nigeria’s unemployment challenges.

“However, this recent suspension by the current administration shows otherwise as many Nigerians who use Twitter for legitimate business purposes have been unable to do so.

“Research by Netblocks has shown that the Nigerian economy loses at least ₦2,177,089,051.00 ($ 6,014,390.00) each day, since the indefinite suspension was announced.”

The letter noted that with respect to the human rights impacts of the indefinite suspension, the rights provided for under Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) including the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, press freedom, access to information, and freedom of association and peaceful assembly have been adversely impacted as an estimated 40 million Nigerian users are on Twitter exercising their rights to engage, organise and mobilise at national and global levels.

Sesan stressed that in addition to the rights provided for under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Nigeria has the obligation to promote, protect and fulfil its obligations under international human rights law.

For example, with respect to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Nigeria is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which provides under its Article 19(1-3) that the rights are protected ‘regardless of frontiers’ with limited permissible restrictions.

He said the restrictions were required to be: Legal i.e. provided for by a law which is clear and sufficiently precise as to the extent of the limitation; Legitimate i.e. done to protect the rights of others; Necessary in a democratic society i.e. no other means exists to address the harm in question and Proportionate: i.e. the limitation on the right must not be overboard.

In assessing the requirements for necessity, legality, legitimacy and proportionality, Sesan said the following could be noted, first, there is currently no clear and sufficiently precise law in Nigeria that provides for such action by the Nigerian government.

Second, the Nigerian government is yet to demonstrate how the suspension protects the rights of others.

Third, the Nigerian government is yet to show that it has used the ‘least intrusive means’ of addressing the harm purported caused before the suspension. Fourth, the Nigerian government has failed to demonstrate that its actions to suspend Twitter’s operations was not excessive and over-reaching.

“These show that since the indefinite suspension took effect on 5 June 2021, there has been no credible evidence that it was effective at achieving any legitimate aim. If anything, it has negatively impacted Nigeria economically and further infringed on the rights of many Nigerians,” Sesan said.

Credit: ThisDayLife

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