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Nigerian lawyers threaten to sue federal government over twitter suspension order

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has threatened to sue the President Muhammed Buhari led government if the authorities fail to reverse its decision to suspend Twitter operations indefinitely in the country.

Pelican Brief

Penpushing reports that, the Nigerian lawyers, made the declaration in reaction to the ban announced by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday, the suspension order which came barely 48 hours after the microblogging site deleted a controversial post by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President in the controversial comments on his twitter page threatened to treat those attacking government buildings “with the language they understand’, announced the suspension referencing the country’s civil war.

Penpushing further reports that, the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata, while reacting to the government suspension order on twitter expressed the association’s “great concern” over the implications of the development.

The legal practitioners noted that the implications of the suspension order, extend to “the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium”, stressing that  there is no Nigerian law that can be cited in support of the ban.

Penpushing also reports that, Akpata reminded  the Buhari led  government that the country practises “constitutional democracy” where everything must be done according to recognised rules.

“The Nigerian Bar Association finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and deprive Nigerians of their right to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions’

‘ 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 Nigerian Bar Association will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and our democracy’, Akpata emphasised

Penpushing reports that, the lawyers pointed out that the Nigerian government’s directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT (Over The Top) and social media operations in Nigeria, “is, at best, yet another disguised attempt to regulate social media, restrict freedom of speech and shrink civic space.”

“The FGN also directed the @NigComCommission 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,” he added.

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