Twitter ban regressive, FG should dialogue –NPAN, NGE, NUJ

By AdvocateNews on 06/06/2021

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors, and the Nigeria Union of Journalists on Saturday condemned the Federal Government’s action.

The bodies also urged the Federal Government to reverse its action. citing that Twitter as a platform for business had brought relief to Nigeria’s youthful population who had prospered by its operation.

NPAN, in a statement on Saturday, asked the Federal Government to reverse the order.

The statement titled, ‘Backtrack from Twitter ban,’ was signed by NPAN President, Kabiru Yusuf.

It read in part, “To the extent that Twitter may have been hasty in sanctioning President Buhari and shown an uneven application of its rules against separatist Nnamdi Kanu, its sincerity stands questioned. It should correct itself.

“However, the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria thinks that the suspension of Twitter’s operations by Nigeria is wrong and an overreaction. The action will not win us friends as the closure of public space limits public discourse and democratic advancement. It is a futile exercise in any case, as other platforms are more likely to suspect Nigeria’s intentions towards democratic tenets and act adversarially towards Nigeria.”

NPAN noted that Twitter is a global platform for public communication that has expanded the frontiers of free speech and press freedom, as well as a platform for Nigerians to do business.

“NPAN believes Twitter as a business is not infallible and can be influenced, through high-level engagement, to be a more responsive, liberal platform of public good and not a cynical champion of suspicious causes.

“There should be a compromise: Nigeria needs friends and not enemies at this critical juncture of her existence. She should not play into the hands of the enemies who are relentless in seeking to destroy and ostracise her. Banning Twitter is regressive and should be rescinded in favour of dialogue,” the statement added.

Also, the Nigerian Guild of Editors called on the Federal Government to tread with caution and immediately reconsider its decision.

NGE also asked the government to seek other legitimate means of resolving its dispute with the social media firm.

The President of NGE, Mustapha Isah, and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, made the suggestions in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday.

The NGE said the Federal Government’s action had the “unintended” consequence of jeopardising the economic interests of many Nigerians who relied on the social media platform for vital information to make informed business decisions daily.

It said, “In addition, the suspension is a grave breach of Nigeria’s international obligations under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Guild sees the Federal Government’s action as an overreaction to Twitter’s decision to delete President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet early this week.

“If the Federal Government finds Twitter’s action against the President objectionable, Nigerians should not be made to suffer the collateral damage of denying them their rights to free discourse on Twitter.”

The Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council, also described the order as undemocratic.

In a statement by the NUJ Lagos Council chairman, Adeleye Ajayi, and the secretary, Tunde Olalere, the union cited Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which states that every person shall be entitled to the freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information.

The NUJ said, “The NUJ Lagos Council was, therefore, baffled that the Federal Government could carry out the suspension without having a second thought of the grave implications of the anti-democratic action.

“It is advisable that the Federal Government should rescind its decision by considering the huge number of jobs sustained by Twitter in the country. Other amicable options should be explored by the Federal Government to resolve the misunderstanding with the management of the social media company.”

Posted 06/06/2021 10:56:16 AM


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