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  A lot of orders not backed by any law have been reeled out in the course of the Twitter ban.
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Shortly after the ban, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in characteristic fashion, announced that media houses should delete their Twitter handles. While many of the affected radio or TV stations may not have outrightly deleted their Twitter, many have stopped tweeting altogether. And while the Twitter ban appears to be the most talked-about of the ban, but the other announcement that came with the forced regulation is the requirement that Over The Top (OTT) operators such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and such other services as Facebook. How NBC Hope’s to regulate speech via monitoring chat apps in addition to mainstream media and social media without impinging on the people’s right is not entirely clear. Technically, the NCC and NBC have the right to give directives that will enhance information dissemination and healthy competition within the media and telecoms industry. Nevertheless, those directives in terms of regulation have to fall within the ambit of the law. In a matter where the constitutional and fundamental Free Speech rights of citizens are concerned, even a law passed by the National Assembly will be considered less superior to the constitution.
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The latest accusation by Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, is that Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey, are liable for #EndSARS deaths. To cap it all, Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami (SAN), also issued a directive that if anyone is found using Twitter, they will be prosecuted. Just as in military regimes where decrees could be issued without recourse to existing laws, it is becoming commonplace for officials of government to go against the laws of the land. So many expected that the challenge to the existence of Twitter would end up in courts, but as the courts have been on strike for more than two months until recently no one could challenge the illegality that was going on. It was only last week that the ECOWAS court demanded that the Muhammadu Buhari administration present its defence in a suit challenging the Twitter ban. For effect, the Twitter ban has been revealed not just to be the mere dislike that the government has for criticism, it is beginning to unfold that the whole march is to stifle free speech via the several media channels existing – overstepping its boundaries. If the NCC, NBC, Lai Mohammed and Abubakar Malami are able to mull the passage of a new type of ‘social media bill’ via the National Assembly, then the government would have been able to temporarily justify the illegality of banning free expression and speech. Featured Image Source: Vanguard News
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This article was first published on 19th June 2021

adedoyin

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you


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