BusinessDay

We banned Twitter because of Nnamdi Kanu, EndSARS protests – Malami

The federal government has said the decision to ban microblogging platform Twitter was because it was being used by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and to promote EndSARS protests on October 1.

Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) said this in response to a motion filed by Inihebe Effiong, a human rights lawyer. In the counter-affidavit filed by the AGF, the government said it at no time restrained Nigerians from using Twitter.

The motion filed at the Federal High Court had contended that the Twitter ban was a fundamental human rights bridge breach. Effiong asked the court to grant nine reliefs including an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further suspending, deactivating, or banning the operation and accessibility of Twitter or any other social media service in Nigeria because the act was in violation of his rights.

Read also: How Nigeria’s Twitter ban will stifle digital ecosystem

The lawyer is also asking the court to declare as illegal the threat of criminal prosecution by Malami and Lai Mohammed against Nigerians who ‘violate’ the suspension or ban of Twitter, despite the absence of any written law.

But the AGF countered, saying Nigerians were still using Twitter despite the suspension.

It would be recalled that the government slammed Twitter with a ban after deleting a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari it deemed inciting. But following the public backlash, the government said its decision was not because the platform deleted the President’s tweet. However, it needed to act because Twitter was being used by some people to destabilise the unity of the country.

But the explanation only came after the Federal Government through the office of Malami had threatened to prosecute every Nigerian using VPN to circumvent the ban on Twitter.

The threat to prosecute was challenged at the Economic Community of West African States court. In its judgment, the court ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government can’t impose sanctions or do “anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute” Twitter users, according to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project. The non-governmental organization has filed a suit against the suspension of Twitter and the criminalization of its users in Nigeria, and a hearing is scheduled for July 6.

The government told the court that the Twitter suspension would be lifted once the platform registers with the NBC and the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.