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Twitter wants ban lifted

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…Reps fault suspension

THE micro-blogging and social media platform, Twitter, has written President Muhammadu Buhari seeking restoration of its operations in Nigeria.

  Disclosing this in a statement in Abuja, Special Assistant to the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, said the president had constituted a team to engage with Twitter on the development.

  According to the statement titled, “Twitter Writes President Buhari Seeking Restoration of Access in Nigeria,” the president has approved negotiations with Twitter.

  “Following the indefinite suspension of its operations in Nigeria, for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, Twitter wrote to President Buhari seeking to engage with the federal government over the suspension, with a view to charting a path forward,” it stated.

  The statement further states that the negotiations will be led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed.

Other members of the team include the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malami; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo.

  Recall that the federal government had on June 4, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, suspended Twitter operations on the grounds that the platform was undermining the country’s corporate existence.

   The following day, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, directed the Director of Public Prosecution in his ministry to begin the process of prosecuting violators of the suspension order.

  The federal government’s action has received heavy criticism by groups and nations including the Nigerian Bar Association, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

  The House of Representatives’ Committees on Communications; Justice; Information and Culture; and National Security and Intelligence, grilled Mohammed over the government action.

  At the investigative hearing organised by the committees, Mohammed listed the various legal provisions backing the action by the government.

  The minister stated that national security superseded other considerations such as fundamental human rights.

  Referring to Twitter’s influence in the #EndSARS protests to back his claim, the minister added that the platform played a very unsavoury role by making available its platform to retweet the messages of the #EndSARS protesters and also raised funds for the #EndSARS protesters.

  Mohammed stressed that the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, especially Section 78(1), also supported the suspension of Twitter operations.

  The lawmakers, however, faulted some of the issues raised by Mohammed.

  A member, Shaba Ibrahim (PDP/Kogi) amongst others said he agreed with the minister that national interest and security were at stake but however, said that even as ‘beautiful as it is’, he wondered if in the consideration of that ban, the minister took into cognisance, the coincidence of Mr President’s tweet and Twitter’s action as well as the impression it created on the minds of millions of Nigerians and indeed the entire world.

  “I say this because sometimes, there is what you call ‘claim of right made in bad faith.’ You may well have a legal platform upon which to anchor that action but the circumstances are (the reasons) why you have everybody alluding to the (similar) action taken (by Twitter) against (President Donald) Trump.”

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