Malami’s threat to prosecute Twitter violators abuse of power – CSOs

Written by on June 8, 2021

Over 25 civil society organisations in Nigeria, on Tuesday, condemned the Federal Government’s suspension of microblogging platform Twitter, noting that the measure is unconstitutional.

The organisations also described as an abuse of power, the prosecution order issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, that violators of the ban be prosecuted.

The CSOs, therefore, in a joint statement, said they will continue to use the social media platform as no law in the country prescribed such action as illegal.

The statement read, “We are leaders of civil society organisations that work on governance, corruption, elections, digital rights & inclusion, women’s rights and journalism in Nigeria.

“We strongly support statements released by various civil society organisations and other stakeholders, condemning the suspension of the microblogging platform, Twitter, in Nigeria, as this represents a continued assault on the civic space and anti-democratic clampdown on free speech.

“We are also aware of the statement credited to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, threatening to arrest anyone who continues to tweet after the announced suspension.

“We, therefore, wish to categorically say that we, as individuals, and our organisations, do not know any law that the act of sharing information breaks, and will continue to use Twitter, other social media platforms, and other media channels, to share information and engage with citizens.

“We note that Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes it impossible to convict any person for a criminal offence if that offence is not defined and its penalty not prescribed in a written law. On the power of Section 36(12) which protects a fundamental human right, we therefore note and state unequivocally that the Attorney General’s statement threatening to prosecute citizens using Twitter contravenes the Constitution and is a violation of human rights and an utter abuse of power.

“We stand with Nigerians who continue to exercise their fundamental human rights, especially as we will be celebrating Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12.

“God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!”

The statement was co-signed by ‘Gbenga Sesan of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Yemi Adamolekun of EiE Nigeria, Adebayo Raphael of Centre for Liberty, Auwal Rafsanjani of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Chioma Agwuegbo of TechHerNG, Cynthia Mbamalu of Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Edetean Ojo of Media Rights Agenda, Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development, and Joshua Olufemi of Dataphyte.

Others are Idayat Hassan of Centre for Democracy and Development, Kolawole Oluwadare of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga of Centre for Impact Advocacy, Nelson Olanipekun of Citizen Gavel, Olabukunola Williams of Education as a Vaccine, Seun Onigbinde of BudgIT, Udy Akpan of Youth Alive Foundation, Oluwatosin Alagbe of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, as well as Y.Z Y’au of Centre for Information Technology and Development.

The statement was also co-signed by Concerned Nigerians, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Deaf Women Aloud Initiative, Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development, Raising New Voices Initiative, Cheta Nwanze, Nana Nwachukwu and Tunde Aremu.


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