The President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos, that it has not stopped Nigerians from using Twitter, adding that, no one has been prosecuted for still sharing their opinions against the government on the giant social media platform, .
It told the court that the Twitter suspension would be lifted once the platform registers with the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, and the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, for local regulations of its operations in Nigeria.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Federal Government said this in a counter-affidavit they deposed to in response to an originating motion filed by a Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, on Thursday.
Effiong had sued the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, AGF Malami, and the Federal Government, for suspending the social media platform.
In the fundamental human rights suit marked FHC/L/CS/542/2021, Effiong is seeking for 9 reliefs, including an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from further suspending, deactivating, or banning the operation and accessibility of Twitter, or any other social media service in Nigeria, because the act was in violation of his rights.
He asked the court to declare as illegal, the threat of criminal prosecution by AGF Malami and Lai Mohammed against Nigerians who ‘violate’ the suspension or ban of Twitter, despite the absence of any written law.
In an affidavit deposed to by Mr. Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the Federal Government and the AGF, however, it was stated that the suspension of Twitter is not an abuse of human rights, because Nigerians are still using Twitter, despite the suspension.
The affidavit reads in part: “The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria. Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.
“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never stopped the applicant (Effiong) and the class of persons he seeks to represent from voicing their opinions to access government information and offer criticism where necessary.”
The government further told the court that Nigerians are still free to use other social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Tiktok, and others.
The government also denied knowledge of Twitter deleting President Buhari’s tweet on the Biafra Civil War, which offended many Nigerians, saying that Twitter had made its platform accessible to elements like Nnamdi Kanu, the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and had supported the #EndSARS protests of October 2020, which was later hijacked by hoodlums.
The government further stated that Nigerians should direct their anger at Twitter, and not the government, because Twitter would not have been suspended, if it complied with Nigeria’s laws.
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