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#TwitterBan: Coalition tackles FG, says Buhari’s government insensitive 

The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom has tackled President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of Twitter, a microblogging platform in Nigeria.

The group said the action by the federal government is a violation of the fundamental human right of expression as guaranteed by Section 39, of the 1999 Constitution.

The coalitions that signed the statement obtained by POLITICS NIGERIA on Tuesday are African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Civic Media Lab, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Daily Trust Newspaper, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and International Press Centre (IPC).

Others are HEDA Resource Centre, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), OrderPaper, Paradigm Initiative (P.I), Premium Times (PT), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Sahara Reporters (SR), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), The Cable and Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)

“The ban on Twitter has a perilous impact on the freedom of expression of Nigerian citizens and the press on statutory level. Worsening these threats is the introduction of two prohibitive legislative proposals – the Hate Speech and the Social Media Bills, which until recently were under consideration in the National Assembly,” the group said.

“These consistent patterns of attempt by the government to subvert the individuals and media organisations calls for a query about government intent to commit to nourishing democracy in Nigeria. It also calls for a deep interrogation of how the government in Nigeria flouts multiple treaty obligations to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

“Articles 19 of the Universal Declarations on Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, as well as Sections 65 and 66 of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol, not to mention other United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) protocols are just a handful of international instruments that the country has committed to but constantly flouts with regards to its obligation to promote a free press at home.”

“The ban of Twitter exposes a new regime of regulations on platforms on OTT use through the National Communication Commission. It is unbelievable that a government that gathered the goodwill of the people on a promise of change has now stooped so low to ban a platform it used as a campaign tool to harness power; what level of brassiness can the government further go. ”

“Aside from the law that supports freedom of the press and freedom of expression, in 2019, PTCIJ documented 27 laws that constrain press freedom embedded in various laws, including the penal act, criminal code act,official secret act, and national broadcasting commission act among others.”

‘Irrespective of this, the National Broadcasting Commission issued a press release asking all broadcasting stations to desist from using the microblogging platform as a source of information gathering and has threatened to prosecute citizens who continued to use the platform. While this is a brutal violation of the legislative processes, it is also a violation of the spirit of Section 22 of the 1999 constitution which mandates the media to disseminate information and hold the government accountable to the public.”

The coalition further said the “insensitive action of the government has further thrown the nation into a state of enormous disbelief and has increased the level of distrust between the government and its citizens.We implore the government to retrace its steps in constraining the freedom of the press and expression,” the statement read.

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