The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has expressed readiness to sue the federal government over the suspension of Twitter.
The PDP lawmakers, in a statement by their leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), said the action of the government lacked the backing of the law and would lower the image of Nigeria in the comity of democratic nations.
Mr Chinda said the government was trying to introduce the unpopular ‘Social Media Bill’ by mere executive fiat with the directive to the National Broadcasting Commission to license social media operators in the country.
The opposition party in the National Assembly has been speaking over the controversial ban.
On Saturday, the minority caucus in a press statement condemned the ban, while a lawmaker, Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue), vowed to halt the proceeding of the House if the leadership of the House should attempt to gag members from raising motion on the ban when the House resumes on Tuesday.
The lawmakers in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have refused to speak on the ban.
PREMIUM TIMES on Friday reported the ban of the microblogging site, Twitter, by the federal government.
This came two days after Twitter took down a controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which the microblogging site said violated its rules.
Many Nigerians had described the tweet as a veiled threat of violence against the Igbo ethnic group while others disagreed, saying it was targeted at perpetrators of violence.
Despite the ban, Nigerians have continued to access Twitter, through Virtual Private Network (VPN).
However, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, announced on Saturday that his ministry would prosecute Nigerians bypassing the restriction.
The Presidency also said the suspension of Twitter was temporal.
Threat to sue
Mr Chinda said the caucus was ready to approach the court if the government fails to reverse the ban.
“The announcement by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture also insidiously instructed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT (Over-The-Top) and social media operations in Nigeria.
“We also call on the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to immediately rescind its directive to the NBC to begin the licensing of social media operators in the Country, having regard to the absence of any enabling legislative framework for such directive.
“We hereby give you NOTICE that in the event of the failure, refusal and or neglect of the Federal Government to withdraw, reverse and/or cease the implementation of these oppressive and unconstitutional actions, we shall be constrained to institute legal proceedings at the appropriate judicial venue within the shortest possible time,” he said.
The lawmaker explained that there is a pending case against the NBC between him and the NBC. The case, according to him, is titled: FHC/ABJ/CS/1136/2020 between Rep. Kingsley Chinda & 8 Ors v. Minister of Information & 2 Ors.
Mr Chinda explained that the case is over the amended 6th NBC code.
“Nigerians will recall that on 4th August, 2020, the Minister of Information and Culture issued/enacted an Amended 6th National Broadcasting Code for the country which similarly imposes restrictions on sundry fundamental freedoms.
“Convinced that the Broadcasting Code is a violation of Chapter IV of the Constitution, this Caucus filed a suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in Suit No,” he said.
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