By Robert Egbe
The Nigerian Bar Association, Amnesty International (AI) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mike Ozekhome have opposed the Federal Government’s indefinite suspension of the operations of micro blogging and social networking service Twitter.
They advised the government to immediately reverse itself on the ground that the suspension contravened Nigerians constitutional right to freely express their views via Twitter.
In the alternative, NBA President Olumide Akpata threatened legal action against the government on behalf of Nigerians.
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed had announced the “indefinite” suspension in a statement on Friday by his spokesman Segun Adeyemi.
But In a statement on Twitter, Akpata said: “The Nigerian Bar Association has noted with great concern the extraordinary decision of the Federal Govt to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and, by necessary implication, the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium.
“The NBA finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“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 NBA will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and for the sake of our democracy.”
AI also voiced its condemnation of the decision via its social media handle using, like the NBA, the hash tag #TwitterBan
It said: “Amnesty International condemns the Nigerian government’s suspension of Twitter @Twitter in #Nigeria — a social media widely used by Nigerians to exercise their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
“We call on the #Nigerian authorities to immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights.
“This action is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right.”
Dr Ozekhome slammed the government in a statement ‘When a toterring government twiddles Twitter’
He said:”What does Nigerian government think Twitter loses by being suspended? It is just the Nigerian people that will suffer, in the same way the government has been punishing Nigerians in the last six years. “Twitter will not even bother whether Nigerians use Twitter or not. We are 210 million people in Nigeria. Of this number, only about 33 million Nigerians are active on social media. Less than 15 million of these are on Twitter. On the other hand, there are well over 300 million people across the world that use twitter. So Twitter will not feel it. It is just like a drop of water in an oasis. Twitter will not even know that a country has suspended it.
“So, it is the same beleaguered Nigerian people that will suffer, not the Federal Government or Twitter, because the Federal Government is a minute minuscule aspect of the Nigerian society, made up of only a few selected elite that do not care about the common man.
“This is the same Government that undeservedly rode to power using the same twitter and other social media platforms it now detests….I am very ashamed.”