…Says FG didn’t suspend Twitter because of president’s tweets
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed Tuesday accused the microblogging site, Twitter of promoting and encouraging acts of terrorism and creating instability in the country.
Mohammed, who disclosed at the investigative hearing organised by the joint House of Representatives Committee on Information, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Justice also disclosed that Twitter aided the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with the platform to spread hate news, orders for the killing of soldiers, policemen and burning of government institutions.
He said Twitter also raises funds for the #EndSARS protests. The minister, however, clarified that: “We did not ban Twitter, we simply suspended it. Secondly, we did not do that because they deleted the president’s tweets.”
He said the decision of the government was supported by the position of section 45 of the 1999 Constitution, the Company and Allied Matters Act and also the anti-terrorism act among others.
The minister lamented that despite repeated reminders from the Federal Government, Twitter continued to provide separatist groups the platform to promote terrorism in the country.
Defending the suspension placed on Twitter by the government, Mohammed explained that public interest takes precedence over individual interest. He said: “Section 45(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is to the effect that: 45 (1) Nothing in Sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
“a. In the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health or;
“b. The purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other person”.
According to the minister: “Section 45 of the constitution leaves no one in doubt that the provisions of Section 39 of the constitution on Freedom of Expression are not absolute. The right to free expression within the contemplation of Section 39 makes it a qualified right in light of the aforementioned Section 45, which permits restrictions of civil liberties in the public interest. In the circumstance the provisions of Section 3 of the National Security Act, which clothes the State Security Services (SSS) with the powers to preserve the internal security of Nigeria is instructive, as it provides a lawful basis for the Federal Government to maintain that the ban of Twitter was pursuant to the security reports of the SSS in this regard.”