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The Federal Government has informed a Federal High Court in Lagos that it has not prevented Nigerians from utilising microblogging platform, Twitter, stating that several Nigerians are still using it daily.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Federal Government said this in a counter-affidavit they attested to reply an originating motion filed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, which was acquired by Top Naija on Thursday.
The FG had on June 4, 2021, suspended Twitter scarcely two days after the microblogging platform deleted President Buhari’s tweet.
Nevertheless, many Nigerians have bypassed the Twitter suspension by using Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The AGF, in a statement threatened to prosecute Nigerians still utilising Twitter while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered all radio and TV stations to stop using the microblogging platform or picking content from it.
Subsequently, rights lawyer, Effiong, filed lawsuit against the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Malami, and FG for suspending the microblogging platform.
In the fundamental human rights suit marked FHC/L/CS/542/2021, Effiong is seeking nine reliefs, which include an order of perpetual injunction preventing the respondents from further suspending, deactivating or banning the operation and Twitter accessibility or any other social media service in Nigeria because the act was in violation of his rights.
Effiong requested the court to declare illegal the threat of criminal prosecution by Malami and Lai Mohammed against Nigerians who ‘violate’ the suspension or Twitter ban, in spite of the absence of any written law.
In an affidavit sworn by Mr Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the Federal Government and the AGF, it was said Twitter suspension was not an abuse of human rights because Nigerians were still utilising Twitter even with the suspension.
It partly read, “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 is not 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 FG informed the court that Nigerians are still free to use other platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Tiktok and others.
It also denied knowledge of Twitter deleting President Buhari’s tweet on the Biafra civil which offended several Nigerians.
The Federal Government stated that Twitter had made its platform accessible to people like Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra; and had supported the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 which was then hijacked by hoodlums.
It added that Nigerians should direct their anger at Twitter and not the FG because Twitter would not have been suspended if it abided by the laws of Nigeria.
The FG informed the court that suspension of Twitter would be lifted once the microblogging platform registers with the National Broadcasting Commission and the Corporate Affairs Commission.
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