Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister for Information and Culture

Legislators to summon Information Minister, investigate legality of Twitter ban in Nigeria

*Stakeholders insist the Federal Government’s suspension of Twitter is a violation of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression in the country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

While recognising Twitter as ‘a very important means of communication’, members of the House Representatives in the National Assembly (NASS) have resolved to invite  Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister for Information and Culture, so as to  investigate the legitimacy of the Federal Government’s earlier suspension of Twitter services in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect reports the Federal lawmakers made the decision Tuesday, June 8, 2021, during plenary in the House of Representatives in Abuja, FCT.

The Nigerian House of Representatives during a plenary

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House, in his speech directed the House Committees on Justice, Commerce and Information to probe the process that led to the suspension of the global microblogging site and social media platform.

Gbajabiamila declared that the House of Representatives recognises Twitter as “a very important means of communication.”

The Speaker contended that the microblogging site has been used for both good and bad, and the Legislature must make sure that the policies of government are in accordance with the law and do not have adverse consequences on the Nigerian consumers.

According to him, relevant Committees of the Lower House of NASS are to constitute a single committee, and commence an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the ban, and its legality as it were.

The committee, therefore, is to invite the Minister for Information and Culture on the matter.

Recall the Federal Government last Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter operations in the country.

Alhaji Mohammed when announcing the suspension in a statement cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Following the announcement, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed the telecom operators in Nigeria to block Twitter services.

Subsequently, ConsumerConnect checks with several consumers of Twitter services across the country revealed that most users are unable to access the microblogging website, while some navigated the hurdle, using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Twitter’s app is popular with especially young Nigerians, and 64 percent of whom are under 25 years old, according to the United Nations (UN).

The microblogging site ranks as the sixth-most used social-media platform in the country, according to report.

Twitter has expressed concern about the ban on its operations, and said it is working to restore access to services in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, diplomats from the United States (US), United Kingdom (EU) and European Union (EU) in Nigeria among several others are insisting that the Federal Government’s suspension of Twitter is a violation of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression of Nigerians.

Broadcast regulator drafts fresh rules for Twitter after suspension

Nigeria’s broadcast regulator has reportedly started drafting new rules that will require Twitter Incorporated to have a licence to operate, after the government banned the global tech giant.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in a press release Sunday, June 6 also ordered all broadcasters to suspend “patronage of Twitter immediately” and stop using the social media company as a “source of information gathering for news and programmes.”

The regulator said: “It will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information, therefore strict compliance is enjoined.”

In the mold of the NCC earlier directive to the telecom companies to suspend twitter services to consumers, the order from the NBC also follows the government’s banning of tech giant last Friday.

The San Francisco-based company Twitter had deleted a tweet in which President Muhammadu Buhari apparently threatened to crack down on a separatist rebellion in a section of the country.

The Minister for Information and Culture also mandated the regulator to direct all social media companies and so-called Over-the-Top (OTT) media services to apply for permits.

Mr. Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, was to have stated in an e-mailed response to questions that “the commission is currently in the process of carrying out the directive.”

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