After observing a two-week break, the House of Representatives resumed plenary sessions this Tuesday and ordered an investigation into the Twitter ban which was effected in the country on Friday.
Recall that the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, declared the operations of Twitter illegal in the country. This was only days after the microblogging platform deleted a civil war tweet made by President Buhari’s handle, which many people described as ‘genocidal’.
The ban has been met with public outcry from Nigerians, foreign envoys, human rights organizations and other institutions. It has also been widely condemned as a violation of section 39 (1) of Nigeria’s constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated into national law.
At the plenary which held on Tuesday, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the Committees on Justice, Commerce, and Information have been given the responsibility to determine the circumstances of the ban on Twitter as well as its legality.
He said, “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.”
Additionally, the committees have been mandated to invite the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in the course of the investigation. He will share the objectives, intent as well as the duration of the ban on Twitter. The committees are expected to complete their processes and report back to the House within 10 days.
The ban is an expensive one for the country as many of its youthful population depend on the tech platform in one way or the other to make a living. Information from NetBlocks, a watchdog organisation that tracks cyber-security and internet administration, says that the country loses about N2.18 billion each day that the ban persists.
If the ban lasts throughout the 10 days that the House Committees carry out their investigations, then the country would have lost an additional N21.8 billion. This will further weaken Nigeria’s already shaky economy.
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