The Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government on Tuesday gave reasons for banning Twitter operations in Nigeria.
Naija News reports that this was made known by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, during a presentation to the House of Representatives Joint Investigative Committee on Twitter Suspension.
Lai Mohammed stated that one of the reasons Twitter was suspended was for the role it played in the EndSARS protests – a nationwide demonstration against the notorious Police unit, SARS.
He added that Section 45 of the Constitution leaves no one in doubt that the provisions of Section 39 of the Constitution on Freedom of Expression are not absolute.
Mohammed noted that the rights to Freedom of Expression on the Twitter platform is further qualified by Section 45 of the Constitution in light of the provisions of Section 5(1) and (2) of the Terrorism Act of 2011.
He said Twitter did not abide by Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (the Act).
Lai Mohammed said: “The Minister insisted that the government is empowered to take all necessary measures, including suspension of Twitter or any other social media, to protect Nigeria’s critical infrastructure from a cyber-threat or attack.
“Hon. Members, like I, said the only reason we suspended the operation of Twitter is that it was promoting disunity in Nigeria and it became a national security risk. As you can see the provision of the constitution leaves no one in doubt that the provisions on freedom of expression are not absolute.
“If you look at the circumstances of section 3 of the national security act which clothes the State Security Service with the powers to preserve the internal security of Nigeria is very instructive that any platforms that threaten the internal security of Nigeria will not be allowed to operate.
“This is a case where the federal government deemed it necessary that the activities of Twitter in Nigeria were inimical to the stability of the country.
“Hon members, may I remind you that during the unfortunate #EndSARS# protest, the same played a very unsacred role by making available its platform to retweet, not just the retweeting the messages of EndSARS protesters, but raising funds for the EndSARS protesters before it was hijacked by hoodlums. And Nigerians have forgotten that this particular EndSARS protests led to the death of 57 civilians, 37 policemen, 6 soldiers, 243 properties destroyed, 200 brand new buses belonging to Lagos State government, 83 warehouses were vandalized and yet Jack Dorsey crowd-funded the activities. That’s I said that the Twitter mission in Nigeria is suspect.
“Hon. Members, we all know that IPOB is proscribed by the high court of law in Nigeria and yet it is a platform of choice through which IPOB directs its people to kill soldiers, policemen, to burn correctional centers. So both in practice and common law, we had to suspend their operations.
“I will round up by even the position of Companies Allied Act also supports the suspension of Twitters operations in Nigeria because the primary laws governing businesses in Nigeria is the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020. Twitter is not licensed in Nigeria.
“We are within the law to suspend Twitter. Our position is also supported by cyber space security act.”