The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has threatened legal action against the federal government if it doesn’t rescind its decision to suspend indefinitely operations of Twitter in the country.
President of the NBA Olumide Akpata in a series of tweet on Friday while condemning the move by the Nigerian government noted that the decision to suspend the microblogging social media service was an infringement on the rights of citizens to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through the medium.
He also stated that the directive by the federal government to the Nigeria Communications Commission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in the country is another disguised attempt to regulate social media, restrict freedom of speech and shrink civic space.
“The Nigerian Bar Association has noted with great concern the extraordinary decision of the Federal Govt to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and, by necessary implication, the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium,” the NBA said.
“The FGN also directed the @NgComCommission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria, which is, at best, yet another disguised attempt to regulate social media, restrict freedom of speech and shrink civic space.
“Whether one likes it or not, we are operating a constitutional democracy, the primary consequence of which is that everything must be done according to law; government must be conducted within the framework of recognised rules and principles which restrict discretionary power.
“The @NigBarAssoc finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria. Beyond the dent on our constitutional democracy, at a time when the Nigerian economy is unarguably struggling, the impact of arbitrary decisions such as this on investor confidence is better imagined.
“Consequently, if this decision is not immediately reversed, the @NigBarAssoc will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and for the sake of our democracy.”
By Abel Ejikeme