Reps divided over twitter ban, summons Lai Mohammed

By Gift Chapi Odekina

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Communication, Justice, Information
and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence to immediately commence an investigation to

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.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila made this known at plenary on Tuesday while delivering his
welcome address after the House resumption from the recess it embarked on recently.

According to Gbajabiamila, 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 (10) days.

On the contrary, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House led by Hon. Kingsley Chinda
however staged a walk out at the plenary after not being satisfied with the House stand on the ban of
twitter operation in Nigeria by the federal government.

Addressing newsmen over the House leadership decision on twitter ban, the Chinda led caucus said the
House should rescind its decision on twitter ban in the interim pending when the reports by the House
Committees mandated are submitted.

“The decision of the House is arrived at after a vote. There was no debate and no vote on the position of
the House on the matter”.

“Every member of this party caucus will continue to twit and wait for the federal government to
prosecute us as threatened”, Chinda said.

The caucus leader said that the position of the House Speaker Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on the ban is not
far reaching enough and there are many citizens making a living from Twitter.

The lawmaker and other caucus members who dismissed alleged division among its members on the
issue added that Twitter is an important tool and source of information.

He also challenged the Attorney-General of the Federation Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN to immediately
begin the prosecution of its members in the law courts for violating the ban if he has such constitutional

He added that the federal government can only fish out those who are using Twitter unlawfully and take
such actions if they are found guilty of threat to national security and not ban its usage.

Recall that barely four days ago, the federal government suspended Twitter operation in Nigeria
following the delete of President Muhammadu Buhari tweet threatening and reminding Nigerians of the
havoc of the civil war experienced in the country.

The investigation is also to find out the “legal authority” for the suspension of the operations of the
microblogging site.

The Speaker said the outcome of the investigation would determine further actions the House would
take on the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.

Gbajabiamila, who acknowledged the role of Twitter as an important communication platform for
“communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation”, noted that it
was understandable that the suspension generated fierce debate lately.

However, the Speaker explained that the House must react to the development with caution, first by
bringing the government’s decision under scrutiny through the investigation it had ordered.

He added that as “good” a tool as Twitter is, it can also be used as “a tool for bad actors”, while at the
same time asking all regulatory agencies to ensure that their actions are in line with existing laws of the

“The proper role of the legislature in circumstances like this is first to peel back the layers of the
decision-making process to unravel the issues until we develop an understanding of the why and the
how of executive decisions. Following that, the legislature must make sure that regulatory and
enforcement actions by the government are in accordance with the laws of the land, that due process of

law has been followed to the latter and that the outcomes of regulatory decisions do not result in
adverse consequences for the country and all our people.

“Fidelity to our responsibilities in situations like this requires the legislature and legislators to as in the
words of Rudyard Kipling, ‘keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’.

“We listen to the agitation of the people, but we also hear from the government so that from the
abundance of information, we reach the level of awareness that allows us to discharge our role

Recall that the Minister, while defending the government’s decision, cited “the persistent use of the
platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Speaker Gbajabiamila also expressed concern over the different dimensions of the security challenges in
the country, adding that as a responsive parliament, the House had taken some steps, including holding
a Special Summit on National Security, to find urgent measures.

“From Owerri in Imo State to Igangan in Oyo State. From Niger to Kaduna, and across the states of the
Northeast, we are witnessing bloodshed and violence of the sort usually associated with war. These are
trying times for all our nation’s people.

“Families are in mourning; communities are under siege and even those who have thus far escaped the
direct impact of the escalating violence cannot help but feel as if they are living on borrowed time.

“We are reminded of the urgent need for coordinated and targeted action by government at all levels
to address this menace and save our nation”, he stated.

Similarly, members of the PDP caucus who briefed journalist after staging a walk out of the chamber
said that the

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This News Site uses cookies to improve reading experience. We assume this is OK but if not, please do opt-out. Accept Read More