The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has mandated the lower arm of the parliament to investigate the legality of the suspension of operations of Twitter in Nigeria by the federal government.
Last week, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced a ban on the use of Twitter in the country indefinitely, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
During plenary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, Mr Gbajabiamila said the committees have been tasked with determining “the circumstances of the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and the legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”
The Speaker added that “it is in service of our obligations under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our moral duty to the Nigerian people” to investigate why the ban was issued.
According to the Speaker, “the House of Representatives recognises that Twitter, like other social media networks, is an important tool for communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation who have used these networks for enterprise and innovation with great success.
“The committees are additionally mandated to invite the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to brief the House of Representatives on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and to report to the House within ten days.”
The ban has been widely condemned as a suppression of free speech in Nigeria and a contravention of section 39 (1) of the nation’s constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated.