The House of Representatives Joint Committees on Information and Culture, Justice, Communications, and National Security and Intelligence on Tuesday, 22 June 2021 held an investigative hearing with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on the Federal Government’s decision to ban Twitter’s operation in Nigeria.
At the investigative hearing which was Chaired by Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi (APC: Oyo), lawmakers had requested that the Minister provide further updates about the decision of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria especially as this measure inhibits citizens’ access to information and business.
The Minister had stated that the decision of the FG to suspend Twitter’s operations in Nigeria was in relation to security threats, for which it is empowered to take necessary measures and give orders to safeguard the country from cyber threats and attacks. He also mentioned that Twitter is not licensed to do business in Nigeria and failed to comply with relevant laws.
Lawmakers posed questions to the Minister to clarify the role of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in ensuring that penalties were introduced against Twitter, if the business enterprise had failed to comply with relevant laws guiding the operations of foreign companies in Nigeria as alleged by the Minister.
To justify the Federal Government’s actions, the Minister also explained that the ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria was lawful based on provisions of the following laws:
- Section 78 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020
- Articles 24, 25, and 26 of the African Union (Convention) on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection;
- Article 19(2) and (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and
- Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition and Prevention, Etc.) Act, 2015.
According to him, the decision of the Federal Government to ban Twitter operations in Nigeria for being a security threat, is based on the aforementioned laws and on the fact that the social network affords the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a platform to promote treasonable and extremist-based activities.
It would be recalled that Federal Government had announced its decision to suspend Twitter operations in Nigeria on Friday, 4 June 2021, after the platform had deleted a tweet by the President, Muhammadu Buhari threatening violence against pro-Biafra groups. Following from this, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC: Lagos) at the plenary session of Tuesday, 8 June 2021 in his remark on the matter, had mandated the Committees to summon the Minister.
The Joint Committee is expected to present its report in plenary for consideration by the House of Representatives.