The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has berated the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for directing the arrest and prosecution of Nigerians using Twitter.
Recall that the Federal Government on Friday suspended, indefinitely, the operations of microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement signed by his media aide Segun Adeyemi.
The minister cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Following the ban of the social media site, Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Saturday, directed the immediate prosecution of offenders of the ban.
Malami on Saturday directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to commence in earnest the process of prosecuting violators of the de-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
Reacting in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP described the directive as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
The party said the directive is not only downright ludicrous but showed the frenzied desperation by the Buhari Presidency to muzzle, victimize, clamp down on innocent Nigerians and foist a totalitarian system on the country.
The PDP said: “The PDP states that nothing in our extant laws, not even the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, constitutionally criminalized the use of Twitter by Nigerians or empowers the federal governments to arrest and prosecute any Nigerian for using Twitter.
“For Malami’s information, section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that ‘a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefor is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a law of a state, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of the law’.
“President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC are informed that there is no extant law that defined the use of Twitter as a criminal offence and there is no penalty prescribed in a written law for the use of Twitter by any Nigerian.
“Moreover, they should also realize that the suspension of Twitter by the APC Federal Government, in addition to its unconstitutionality, only suspended Twitter operations and not the use of Twitter by Nigerians.
“The directive by the Attorney General to arrest and prosecute any Nigerians found using Twitter, does not have the backing of any law enacted by the National Assembly or any state legislative house, and as such, Malami’s declaration is completely of no legal consequence.”