Dr Chima Amadi, the Chairman, Steering Committee of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has described the suspension of Twitter’s operation in Nigeria by the Federal government as an onslaught on free speech.
In a statement on Sunday, Dr Amadi said the action of the government is an irresponsible display of official rascality, adding that there is no provision in the nation’s constitution that gives the government such powers to stifle free speech.
While also condemning the suspension, he urged the administration to immediately halt what he described as a “slide into ignominy” and to quickly apologise for “this clearly not well thought out line of action.”
Dr Amadi described as unfortunate the threat by the Attorney General of the Federation that the government will prosecute anyone found still tweeting.
The statement reads in part, “This onslaught on free speech is the latest in the Buhari administration’s constriction of the civil space and wanton disregard and trampling of constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens. To be clear, there is no provision in the nation’s constitution that gives the administration such powers to stifle free speech and to prosecute citizens for exercising same. The last time this was experienced was in 1983 with the ill fated decree 2 enacted by the military junta headed by the same Buhari.
“This draconian administrative style has become the stock in trade of the civil garbed Buhari especially since his re-election to a second term of office. This clampdown on free speech is coming within 48 hours of the revelation that the administration is allegedly fine tuning plans to suspend sections of the Constitution in a power grab aimed at further shrinking the already shrivelled civil space. It is interesting to note that the administration would rather worry about the action of a private company on its warped messaging than checking the slide into anarchy that the insecurity in the land is portending.
“This action is not only an irresponsible display of official rascality but stands condemned. The administration ought to know that development can only be engendered when citizens enjoy their constitutional freedoms without fear of sanctions. I am therefore calling on the administration to immediately halt this slide into ignominy and to quickly apologise for this clearly not well thought out line of action. We cannot continue to be the butt of jokes among the comity of nations.”