Nigerian senators have not publicly commented on Friday’s decision by the federal government to ban a microblogging site, Twitter, from operating in the country.
Members of the House of Representatives, of the ruling party – APC, have also kept mum on the ban.
The deafening silence from the lawmakers comes amidst condemnations by many within and outside Nigeria.
Many have also asked the federal government to rescind its decision on the ban.
Over 30 lawmakers who were contacted by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, did not respond to calls and text messages. This includes the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru.
Of all the senators contacted, only the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, responded and said he stands with the position of the Poeples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I stand with the PDP’s position. Freedom to receive and disseminate information is enshrined in our constitution,” he said in a text message.
The PDP had in a statement on Friday, described the #TwitterBan as “a vexatious, condemnable and barbaric move to muzzle Nigerians, particularly the youths, ostensibly to prevent them from holding the overtly corrupt, vindictive and divisive Buhari administration accountable for its atrocities, including human right violations, patronizing of terrorists and outright suppressive acts against innocent Nigerians.”
The party also accused President Muhammadu Buhari of seeking to break its own poor record of press and media rights violations.
PREMIUM TIMES got the same ‘silent’ reaction from APC members of the House including lawmakers who have been vocal on the floor, during plenary sessions.
Some of them include Shina Peller (APC, Oyo), Akin Alabi (APC, Oyo), Tajudeen Adefisoye (APC, Ondo) and Mansur Soro (APC, Bauchi).
These lawmakers have not only been outspoken; they have been very active on twitter as well.
Lanre Lasisi, the spokesperson for the Speaker of the House, had said a statement will be released in that regard but none was sent at the time of this report. The Senate President’s media office declined comment.
The minority caucus of the House has, however, described the #TwitterBan as a violation of freedom of speech of Nigerians.
They asked Mr Buhari to immediately reverse the suspension, so as not to exacerbate the already tense situation in the country.
Nigerians are still condemning the “indefinite suspension” of Twitter operations in Nigeria, as announced by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on Friday.
The announcement came two days after Twitter 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.
Many have described the #TwitterBan as an attempt to gag the media, an attack on press freedom, freedom of expression and attempt to pass the controversial Social Media Bill.
However, since the ban on Twitter, many Nigerians have been using various Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications to remain active on the microblogging site.
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.
He directed the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of the “offenders without any further delay.”
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