Stop military from tracking Nigerians on social media, groups tell Buhari

Internet users ['Photo: Hope for Nigeria]
Internet users ['Photo: Hope for Nigeria]

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to prevail on the military to halt its ongoing monitoring of Nigerians on the Internet.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, was joined by another civic group, Concerned Nigerians, in a recent demand for the president to respect the freedom of Nigerians on all social media platforms.

“Use your good offices and leadership position to instruct the military authorities to immediately end any monitoring of activities of Nigerians on the social media, and to ensure that military operations comply with Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and the country’s obligations under international human rights law,” SERAP said in an open letter to Mr. Buhari dated August 25.

The admonition followed an announcement by Defence Headquarters that citizens are being monitored for “hate speech, anti-government and anti-security information” on social media.

The defence spokesperson, John Enenche, who hinted at the operation in an interview with Channels Television this week did not elaborate on the type of speeches that military deemed as constituting “hate” or “anti-government.”

Mr. Enenche, a major general, put Nigerians on notice about the tracking programme two days after Mr. Buhari himself expressed concerns about emerging tone on social media.

“I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation,” the president in a nationwide address August 21

“This is a step too far,” he added.

But the administration’s stance on did not go down well with many Nigerians, and rights groups have roundly criticised any attempts to curb freedom of expression.

“Monitoring Nigerians on social media would criminalise their freedom and the activity of journalists that are critical of the government and censor the media from reporting on sensitive and critical information that is relevant to the public interest but controversial to the government,” SERAP said in the statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale.

Mr. Adewale said rather than implementing repressive policies, the Buhari administration should develop “proactive and holistic policies that ensure that technology is used to increase both freedom and security of Nigerians.”

The government should also start “promoting, encouraging and facilitating access to the Internet, in particular, social media, and other information and communication technology, as basic tools for Nigerians to express themselves and participate in their own government,” SERAP added.

SERAP said any move to suppress free expression on social media will run contrary to the dictates of the Nigerian Constitution as well as several local and international charters that proscribe attacks on speech.

“The Nigerian government must not censor radio, TV, newsmakers or social media. It’s against all ethics of democracy,” Concerned Nigerians’ convener, Deji Adeyanu, told PREMIUM TIMES in a statement Sunday.

“The beautify of democracy is free speech,” he added. “The minute citizens are afraid of expressing themselves, we are in a dictatorship.”

At least 20 Nigerians have been arrested within the past year for their activities on social media, a situation that could get worse should military continue its surveillance activities, Mr. Adeyanju said.


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  • princegab

    Fighting against freedom of speech is same as fighting against apc re election in 2019. Its up to them.

    • onyearmy

      Buhari’s govt is the most corrupt in our history. Why gag the public? What are they afraid of? Decree 2 again. Mad fools.

      • Alhaji

        They are being afraid of being exposed for stealing. 99% of them are thieves.

  • U. K. Charles

    I bet you, it will be a futile exercise! They’ll be tired! Monitoring about 50 million people online??

    • 0tile

      Imam’s government will be able to control the people. What else are they doing other than lies and propaganda?

      • U. K. Charles

        Did you say “Imam?” Did I hear “control?” These words represent Islamic Despotism and is never acceptable! You’re on social media posting your own lies too!

    • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

      they dont need to do that. They will just set keywords like “Buhari is a failure, or i wanna report Nigerian army crimes”. They wont monitor hate speeches

  • 0tile

    If Imam does intimidate and attack the social media they will continue to expose the rot in his government. He has learn a lot from Buratai, Babachir, and Oke scandals.

    • U. K. Charles

      So your “imam” has “rot” in his government too?? Thought he’s a saint!

      • Dr.Alfred Branson

        Just to intimidate Nigerians with another degree2.To cover up lies and propaganda

        • Alhaji

          And treasury looting.

          • Dr.Alfred Branson

            The government of the day is trying to gag Nigerians in pretentious hate speech.The Social Media the government wants to gag is that same Media that brought the power.

  • Alabi Odekunle Okalawon

    @ukcharles:disqus

    My full name is Alabi Odekunle Okalawon. I live at number 45, Bada Street, Oshodi, Lagos.
    I write on the internet to say that Muhamadu Buhari is the worst president Nigeria’s ever had.
    If the Nigerian Army wants my phone number I can also give it. Now, could the Army return all
    the money they’ve taken from the treasury to track me since i’ve voluntarily identified myself?

    • U. K. Charles

      Mr. Okalawon, I praise your bravado! Over to the military, “return all the money you’ve taken back to the treasury.” Buhari should take note, “you’re the worst leader Nigeria ever had.”

  • AFRICANER

    Unrepentant Dictatorial thug!

  • Du Covenant

    On this ocassion, I disagree with SERAP. There is no country in this day and age that does not monitor the social media for national security reasons. I don’t care whether it is the military, DSS, NPF that does it. Most criminal activities today get hatched out on social media and Nigeria is no exception.

    • Factsayer

      Saudi Arabia is where your type belongs.

      • Alhaji

        And he is certainly a jihadist.

    • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

      You are right but in civilised countries the DSS and Police monitor social media not the military. mostly not a military force that see themselves above the civilian law courts

  • Factsayer

    Mumu military that doesn’t know it’s constitutional power.

  • Mizch

    Hatried in Nigeria started with military coup of December 1983. Has PMB reconciled with Shehu Shagari whom he ousted from power given to him by Nigerian people, and also with IBB who ousted him from power he grabbed? And the 5% that didn’t vote for him?
    Reconciliation heals distress. A National Reconciliation Day can help.