The Joint Minority Caucus of the Senate and the House of Representatives has asked Nigerians to ignore the #TwitterBan and ‘keep tweeting’.
They said this in a statement on Wednesday.
The lawmakers condemned the federal government’s decision to indefinitely ban the operations of Twitter in Nigeria – an act they described as draconian and unacceptable.
The Joint Minority Caucus also dismissed threats by the government to arrest and prosecute Nigerians using Twitter. It called on Nigerians to go ahead and use their Twitter as they would not be contravening any law in Nigeria or any international statute.
“The Joint Minority Caucus recognizes the provisions of Articles 19 and 20 of the United Nations Charter on Fundamental Human Rights, which Nigeria is a signatory to, as well as provisions of Sections 39 and 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and notes that by these provisions no one will be violating any law for using twitter in Nigeria.
“As lawmakers, the Joint Caucus is pained by the anguish Nigerians, especially the youths, who find the use of twitter as a means of livelihood and genuine social interaction, are passing through just because the APC-led Federal Government feels slighted that an individual’s post, was deleted by Twitter for ethical violation.
“The joint caucus, therefore, calls on Nigerians to use various opportunities offered by technology and continue making use of Twitter since such does not violate any law in our country,” part of the statement read.
The announcement to ban Twitter operations in Nigeria was made on Friday – two days after the site took down a controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari. 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 as many said the ban was 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 a reaction, ordered the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Umar Muhammed, to begin the prosecution of those bypassing the ban.
In the statement signed by the Minority Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, Enyinnaya Abaribe and Ndudi Elumelu respectively, they decried that Nigeria and Nigerians have been losing billions of naira on a daily basis since the ban on Twitter.
“This is completely unacceptable as it is worsening the already biting economic hardship and frightening unemployment level in the country. Moreover, the ban on Twitter in Nigeria appears to be in favour of criminal and terrorist elements, whose activities fester in an environment of suppressed information flow.
“The Joint Minority Caucus sympathises with the organised private sector, manufacturing and service providing companies, small and medium enterprises, online businesses owners and other hard-working entrepreneurs across the country, whose genuine business and means of livelihood have been crippled by the unwarranted ban on Twitter by the APC federal government.”
The caucus also sympathised with students, research-based organisations, media houses, civil societies, faith-based organisations and community groups “whose information-based activities have been violently disrupted by the ban.”
They also sympathised with states and traditional rulers whose activities may have been crippled.
They berated the APC-led government for abandoning its duty of addressing the serious economic and security problems confronting the nation and rather dissipate “energy victimising Nigerians over their disagreement with Twitter for deleting a post by an individual.”
They urged the federal government to “swallow its pride, accept its misdoing and settle whatever issue it has with Twitter instead of this resort to inflict pains on Nigerians.”
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