The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has threatened legal action against the Federal Government over the recent suspension of the operation of Twitter in the country.
The caucus said the government action lacked the backing of the law and would lower the image of Nigeria in the comity of democratic nations.
The Leader of the caucus, Mr Kingsley Chinda said in a statement that the subsequent directive to the National Broadcasting Commission to license social media operators in the country is an attempt to introduce the unpopular ‘Social Media Bill’ by mere executive fiat.
“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. 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.
The caucus urged the Federal Government to reverse the decision to suspend the access of Nigerian citizens to Twitter.
It also called on the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to 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.
Meanwhile, the presidency says the temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post.
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, says there has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.
This and similar crimes, according to him which have been fueled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.
Garba Shehu stated that Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities and cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives.
He added that the tweet by the President was not a threat, but a statement of fact.