By Ismail Auwal
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has threatened to take legal action against Federal Government for suspending the operations of global internet brand, Twitter in Nigeria.
Nigeria announced the suspension of Twitter operations in the country after the platform deleted an allegedly genocidal comment made by President Muhammadu Buhari, perceived as “threatening war against the South-East.”
However, the NBA has criticized the action of the Federal Government and threatened to take challenge the move in court “in the interest of the public and for the sake of our democracy”.
The NBA said that it was greatly concerned as it views the decision of Buhari administration as an extreme measure with unpleasant implications for the country.
In a tweet, Olumide Akpata, President of NBA, pointed out that Nigeria is operating a democratic system of government, which implies that ‘every action of the government must be backed by the law”.
He said that the step taken by the government is not constitutionally backed, describing it as a “dent on our constitutional democracy”.
Akpata also said that the move could erode investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy.
“The @NigBarAssocion 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 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,” the NBA president said.