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FG makes U-turn, told court Nigerians were not stopped from using Twitter

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The Federal Government had on Thursday informed a Federal High Court in Lagos that it has not stopped Twitter users in Nigeria from making use of the social media platform, adding that the people of  Nigeria are still utilizing it daily.

Abubakar Malami, who is the Attorney-General of the Federation, stated this in a counter-affidavit read out in reaction to a developing motion filed by Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer.

Recall the Buhari-led government had on June 4, 2021, suspended Twitter activities close two days after the media platform deleted a post by the President, Mohammedu Buhari.

Though, a number of Nigerians have circumvented the suspension through the use of Virtual Private Network.

Malami in an announcement warned to prosecute Nigerians still utilizing the social platform whereas the National Broadcasting Commission authorized all radio and tv stations to cease using Twitter or picking content material from the platform.

The Rights lawyer, Effiong, thereafter charged the Federal Government, Lai Mohammed, and Malami for suspending Twitter.

The suit imprinted FHC/L/CS/542/2021 which borders on fundamental human rights seeks nine reliefs, together with an order of perpetual injunction restricting the respondents from further suspending, halting, or barring the operation and accessibility of Twitter or some other social media service in Nigeria based on the reason the act was in infringement of his rights.

Effiong requested the court to acknowledge as unlawful the threat of criminal action by Malami and Lai Mohammed towards Nigerians who ‘violate’ the pause of Twitter, regardless of the absence of any written regulation.

In an affidavit presented by Mr. Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the FG and the Attorney, it was said that the suspension of Twitter does not amount to an abuse of human rights because citizens have been using Twitter not minding the shutoff.

It read partly, “The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria.

“Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter isn’t aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.

“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never stopped the applicant (Effiong) and the class of persons he seeks to represent from voicing their opinions to access government information and offer criticism where necessary.”

The government explained that Nigerians are still free to make use of different platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Tiktok and others.

The Federal Government again refuted awareness of Twitter deleting President Buhari’s tweet on the Biafra civil war which hurt the feelings of many Nigerians.

It noted twitter had made its platform available to elements like Biafra agitator, Nnamdi Kanu; and had aided the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 which were later hijacked by hoodlums.

The FG additionally said that Nigerians ought to direct their resentment at Twitter and never the government because Twitter wouldn’t have been suspended if it accepted Nigeria’s legal guidelines.

It advised the court that the Twitter suspension could be lifted as soon as the platform registers with the NBC and the Corporate Affairs Commission.

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