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Nigeria Reps reject lifting of Twitter ban in the Country

SERAP reacts after Buhari lists conditions for lifting of Twitter ban

The House of Representatives, on Thursday, rejected the lifting of Twitter suspension.

 

The rejection came while the House was considering the report of its Committee on the matter.

 

The lower legislative chamber, had endorsed the decision of the federal government to dialogue with Twitter.

 

This decision of the lawmakers was taken after Olusegun Odebunmi, chairman of the house committee on information, national orientation, ethics and values, moved a motion for the consideration of the committee’s report.

 

But when he appeared before the panel on June 22, Mohammed said the operation of Twitter in the country “is not legally permissible”.

 

As the report was considered on Thursday, the house was thrown into a rowdy session.

 

Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house and chairman of committee of the whole, who presided over the session, tackled Odebunmi over the report.

 

He said the national security adviser (NSA) was not invited to participate at the investigative hearing.

 

But responding, Odebunmi said all the stakeholders were available at the hearing, adding that the NSA was represented.

 

 


Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, while contributing to the motion, said the hearing was conducted publicly.

 

“I will address the salient points. The reasons have been addressed. Lai Mohammed was invited. It wasn’t done in secret. It was well covered by radio, TV, papers. Whatever side we are on, the committee invited the minister,” he said.

 

Recall that the House had mandated its Committees on Information, ICT, Intelligence, Justice and Orientation to investigate the circumstances of the suspension by the federal government.

 

At the consideration of the report, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu had suggested an amendment to one of the recommendations.

 

It states “That the Federal Government should take into cognizance the negative effect of the Twitter suspension on Nigerians who depend on the platform for their livelihood,” and lift the suspension.

 

 


“The committee has not done a prudent work, and because they have not asked the parliament to take a resolution on this, it speaks to no issue,” he said.

 

“I will say that this report should not be considered. Why is there no legal angle to the decision on these other social media groups? They should go back and do a thorough job.”

 

He demanded that the recommendations be amended to include that the “federal government should take into cognisance the hardship on Nigerians and lift the ban”.

 

The lawmakers adopted the recommendations of the report after it was put to a voice vote.

 

Seconded by another member, the motion was however rejected by the majority of the House when put to vote.

 

Below are the six recommendations as adopted by the house:

(i) That time be allowed for the federal government of Nigeria and Twitter to enter into the dialogue process that is already ongoing, so as to create room for amicable settlement on the matter;

(ii) That relevant government institutions such as the National Broadcasting Commission, Nigeria
Communication Satellite, etc., should be alive to their mandate by doing the needful to avoid future occurrence of this nature;

 

(iii) That the federal government should take into cognizance the negative effects of the Twitter suspension on Nigerians who depends on the platform for their livelihood;

 

vi) That the federal government should be pro-active in their interface with Twitter so as to come up with timely resolution on the matter;

 

(v) That freedom of expression is not absolute anywhere in the world. This is because security and freedom of expression sometimes present contending interests. Therefore, national security must be guaranteed at all times as much as the right to free speech must be protected;

 

 


(vi) That government should always have communicated better with Nigerians when critical decisions are to be made.

 

Twitter Suspension in Nigeria: US Condemns Move, Calls for Decision Reversal

Earlier, the United States condemned the Nigerian government for suspending Twitter and targeting individuals who use the social media site, including Nigerian broadcasters, and called for the African nation to reverse its decision.

 

“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy. Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

 

Price noted that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission had ordered all television and radio broadcasters to stop using Twitter, also calling it a concern.

 

 


Twitter has said it will work to restore access. The company, along with human rights groups such as Amnesty International, also called the suspension deeply concerning.

 

Nigerian government said social media firms must obtain a license to operate in the country.

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