The Nigerian Senate, on Tuesday, maintained silence over the federal government’s decision to ban popular microblogging site, Twitter, from operating in the country.
This is in contrast to the decision of their counterparts at the House of Representatives to summon the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed over the #TwitterBan.
Members of the main opposition party, PDP, in the House also walked out of plenary after the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, turned down an attempt to ask the federal government to review the #TwitterBan.
The federal government had, on Saturday, announced the “indefinite suspension” of Twitter operations in Nigeria – two days after the site took down a controversial tweet by the president. Twitter had said the tweet violated its rules and many Nigerians viewed it as a threat of violence against the Igbo ethnic group.
The announcement has generated outrage and condemnation from within and outside Nigeria. Many have described the ban as an attempt to gag the media, an attack on press freedom, freedom of expression and an attempt to pass the controversial Social Media Bill.
Many Nigerians have been using various Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications to remain active on the microblogging site and Nigeria’s Attorney General, in reaction, ordered the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Umar Muhammed, to begin the prosecution of those bypassing the ban.
Although political parties have reacted to the #TwitterBan, many lawmakers – especially of the APC, have been quiet.
Nigerians had expected the Senate to highlight the issue during plenary on Tuesday but mum was the word. Nothing of the sort was listed for discussion on the Order Paper neither was a motion or Point of Order raised in that regard.
The lawmakers, who began plenary at 11:02 a.m., went into a closed-door meeting shortly after opening prayer. The executive session lasted for over half an hour and the Senate President thereafter announced that the discussions behind closed doors bordered on the workings of the Senate.
They proceeded with plenary and nothing was said concerning the #TwitterBan.
Although the Senate, as a body, has failed to react, some PDP senators have aligned themselves with the statement of the party – which also condemned the ban on Twitter activities.
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