The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has threatened the Nigerian government with litigation if it does not reverse its suspension of Twitter operations in the country.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, had on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter barely 48 hours after the microblogging site deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari referencing the country’s civil war, and threatening to treat those attacking government buildings “with the language they understand.”
In a series of tweets via his twitter handle on Friday, the NBA president, Olumide Akpata, expressed the association’s “great concern” over the development.
According to him, that government’s decision violates “the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium.”
Akpata said there is no Nigerian law that can be cited in support of the ban, saying that the country practises “constitutional democracy” where everything must be done according to recognised rules.
“The Nigerian Bar Association finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and deprive Nigerians of their right to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions.
“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 Nigerian Bar Association will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and our democracy,” he said.
He also faulted the government’s directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT (Over The Top) and social media operations in Nigeria, saying it is “an 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,” he added.