The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the house of representatives, says it will sue the federal government if the decision to suspend the operations of Twitter in the country isn’t reversed.
The caucus also asked the government to rescind the directive asking the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to begin the licensing of social media operators in the country.
TheCable had reported how the government suspended Twitter’s operations indefinitely, after accusing the micro-blogging site of “undermining Nigeria’s existence”.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Kingsley Chinda, leader of the caucus, said the suspension of the microblogging platform has no legal backing.
The lawmakers said the ban on the social networking site “heavily lowers the image of Nigeria in the comity of democratic nations”.
“The directive to the NBC by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to license social media operators is also a surreptitious attempt to introduce the unpopular ‘Social Media Bill’ by mere executive fiat,” the statement reads.
“This, in our view, is a grave violation of the democracy, of separation of powers and an erosion of the rule of law.
“It is a known fact that as non performing, fragile or failed governments face increasing criticism from its citizenry. Out of desperation, they resort to more draconian and lawless actions to intimidate and cow the citizens to consolidate its hold on power by brute force.
“In the discharge of our foremost duty as custodians of the Constitution and representatives of the Nigeria people, we hereby request the federal government to immediately reverse the decision to suspend the access of Nigerian citizens to Twitter.
“We also call on the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to immediately rescind its directive to the NBC to begin the licensing of social media operators in the country, having regard to the absence of any enabling legislative framework for such directive.
“We hereby give you NOTICE that in the event of the failure, refusal and or neglect of the federal government to withdraw, reverse and/or cease the implementation of these oppressive and unconstitutional actions, we shall be constrained to institute legal proceedings at the appropriate judicial venue within the shortest possible time.”
According to the lawmakers, no citizen can be tried for bypassing the suspension directive as directed by Abubakar Malami, minister of justice, noting that the directive has “no basis in law”.
“The supposed suspension imposed on Twitter has no legal foundation, as executive fiats, no matter the language they’re couched, have no force of law,” they said.
“No citizen can be tried for an offence that has no basis in law or backed by a written law and punishment prescribed.
“For many Nigerians, social media is not only a means of escape from the drudgery of daily existence, but has become a veritable source of employment, advertisement and meaningful engagement.
“Twitter, in particular, has become an integral component of the citizens’ ability to keep the government in check and to provide real-time feedback on the impact of government’s activities on the citizenry.”