… Threatens legal action against FG
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has emphasized that the supposed suspension imposed on Twitter has no legal foundation as executive fiats, no matter the language they’re couched, have no force of law.
The caucus therefore threatened to drag the federal government to court over the recent ban on Twitter operations in the country.
In a statement on Sunday, the Leader of the caucus, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, said Twitter has become an integral component of the citizens’ ability to keep the government in check and to provide real-time feedback on the impact of the government’s activities on the citizenry.
Chinda pointed out that the subsequent directive to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to license social media operators in the country was a surreptitious attempt to introduce the unpopular ‘Social Media Bill’ by mere executive fiat.
“On Friday, 4th June, 2021, Nigerians received with rude shock the news of the federal government’s indefinite ‘suspension’ of Twitter Nigeria.
“This rather rash suspension was supposedly anchored on the allegation that Twitter had allowed its platform to be used ‘for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence’.”
The statement pointed out that the suspension of Twitter was one more step in a litany of attempts to restrict the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens as enshrined in and guaranteed by Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.
“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.
“Therefore, we condemn the federal government’s decision to suspend Twitter in the strongest possible terms and call on the authorities to immediately rescind this decision in the interest of free speech and the rule of law, indeed in the interest of democracy,” the caucus said.
The caucus insisted that no citizen can be tried for an offence that has no basis in law or backed by a written law and punishment prescribed.
It said for many Nigerians, social media is not only a means of escape from the drudgery of daily existence, but has become a veritable source of employment, advertisement and meaningful engagement.
It noted that as opposition lawmakers, its objectives are to ensure compliance with the rule of law, good governance, the preservation of law and order, fidelity to the principles of constitutionalism and the general adherence to democratic ethos and principles in public administration throughout the length and breadth of the federation.
The caucus said as custodians of the constitution and representatives of the Nigeria people, it called on the federal government to immediately reverse the decision to suspend the access of Nigerian citizens to Twitter.
It further called on the 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.