By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
It is now well over a month since the government of Nigeria suspended the operations of the microblogging platform, Twitter, forcing all mobile telecommunications operators to deactivate it from their networks. The July 2021 quarterly reports released by Twitter a few days ago showed an impressive performance for an organization that lost a substantial part of its subscribers from Nigeria. Its income also grew exponentially. This speaks largely to the ineffectiveness of the suspension of Twitter, as it has been revealed that a good number of Nigerians are still tweeting and carrying on varying activities on Twitter, in spite of the actions of the government. It would therefore mean that we are at a greater disadvantage as a nation, especially in relation to information dissemination. Before now, Twitter was the most effective way of monitoring the COVID 19 situation in Nigeria, which has been wiped out by the suspension.
When I posted the first piece on this on the dispute between Nigeria and Twitter, well-meaning Nigerians made very useful contributions and suggestions, which I believe will go a long way to assist both sides in the unnecessary conflict. I reproduce them below.
Distinguished SAN, I respectfully beg to differ.. The action of Twitter was based on complaints from fellow Twitter users, it had nothing to do with the personality of the President.. All Twitter users sign on to terms and conditions on registration.. It is therefore very clear that any violation of terms and conditions will be met by sanctions.. People are sanctioned by social media platforms every day, what makes Buhari’s case different or unique? Donald Trump, as sitting President of the U.S was totally banned, he never attempted to illegally use the power of state to vent his personal grievance.. Twitter remains a private company, operating a public service.. All users need to comply with simple terms and conditions, or seek legal redress in their personal capacity.. It is an abuse of power and privilege to infringe on the rights of the entire nation, because of a personal reprimand..
Both parties cannot exercise restraint. Did the U.S ban Twitter for TRUMP?
Twitter had a policy to uphold, no matter whose OX IS GORED! Article 19 is nothing in anyway ambiguous for the Buhari usurpers to understand. What would Lai Mohammed say if he was in opposition?
Igwe Kenn-Chibuzo Oziereonye:
A warning for hate speech? I beg to disagree sir. Twitter in my own understanding did what is right and fair in protecting its subscribers from harmful statements. That is why they stepped in timely and removed the tweet. To me, that is proactive and timely. If Buhari and his handlers are truly “repentant” democratic leaders, he would have first appealed the judgement and he might be given an opportunity of fair hearing and if he couldn’t win the appeal, he would apologise and make amend. But we have a leader who thinks he is doing us a favour by sitting duck in our seat of power and wasting our national time. He thinks he is a god to the world. Let’s see who will blink first.
Ekeutomiye Emmalaw Emmanuel:
I disagree with you in part, my respected Learned Silk. Twitter cannot be compelled to review its Rules just to suit one man. As you rightly noted, Twitter is a private platform. If the President is not comfortable with their Rules, he has the option of deleting the app from his phone and stop using it, not to start dragging the whole country into his personal battle with them.
Nigeria also has rules and regulations which all entities whether operating within or outside the country have to respect. No reasonable country will allow ordinary social App to turn the country to Somalia.
Big Sam, the company has room for appeals, has your “beloved President” taken the opportunity to appeal the decision of Twitter? Again, why should the President place a general ban on Twitter when his offence was not committed by every Nigerian user of the platform? Big Sam, you are known to be on the side of truth and that is my reason for following you since our university years in Great Ife, please maintain it. This President has a history of repression, oppression and domineering, please cast your mind back to his draconian rule in 1984.
Is Twitter even our problem? We leave the primary issue we start to chase secondary. Twitter is not the problem for insecurity, nepotism, kidnapping, banditry, corruption. Twitter is just an avenue people go to vent those anger let government take care of all these and see Twitter will be less toxic. We cannot suffer for just one man’s ego. People with legitimate hustle are stopped because you want to massage your bruised ego. If the President doesn’t like Twitter’s decision, let him move to 2go. Trump followers moved to parley when Twitter yanked him off. What I know is every dictator hides under the guise of national security to suppress the citizens.
This opinion sir with profound respect is not balanced at all, you ought to have also put the President into your contemplation by giving him fair understanding in reading the reasons why he banned Twitter. Yeah banning him is one of the reasons but he is more concerned about how hate speeches are propagated and very violent messages that keep on trooping to disturb the peace of the country. Sir let’s assume the banning of Twitter is an infringement of fundamental right which to me is not, I think section 45 that deals with the derogation of those right will serve as shield to Mr. President in terms of protecting national interest. So I wonder if my learned Silk was oblivious of these vital facts, could it be that there is an element of sentiments? I would have said so but GOD forbid the day I will infer such from my learned Silk.
Sir the President’s comment was not just offensive but has the likelihood of inciting the citizenry and that informed the reason for deleting the same, therefore your view that he should have been given the opportunity of warning shouldn’t apply in the circumstances, Twitter was correct in its decision.
Jonathan Abang Ugbal:
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN, Twitter actually informs every account of every action to be taken and taken. The reasons are stated. I have asked PMB’s apologists who are raining insults on me to tell me whether Twitter informed Muhammadu Buhari , a Nigerian who currently occupies the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria about their decision or not! The deleted tweet was from the account of the retired Army General and not that of the office of the President!
Agu Ukwu Ifeanyichukwu:
You mean someone who through his post threatened a whole tribe with war is not enough for Twitter to delete his post? Let’s call a spade a spade please. This is one of the reasons this country is getting worse every day. Very unfortunate.
Ismail Olalekan Abdazeez:
Why Twitter doesn’t delete Nnamdi Kalu tweets when he is instigating people against security personnel.
Na this human right thing oyinbo people go use destroy this country. Where was US, CANADA, FRANCE etc when Israel bombed building housing international media organization under the guise of attacking terrorists, up till now they have not given evidence that there were terrorists in that building, the president of Egypt is embraced by the West despite his draconian attitude, these guys operate double standards. With what they did in Syria and Libya under the guise of human rights, they lack all moral ground to counsel any nation.
Ofure Anthony Bernard:
There was no outright punishment sir. Mr President’s Twitter handle wasn’t suspended, rather the tweet he made was taken down when it was reported as an hateful con.tent. After reviewing from the organisation, they found it so (as a harmful statement) and they deleted it. If the FG warns against hate speech from time to time but sadly the number 1 man in the country is a promoter of such, then they should be ashamed of their irresponsibility.
Oluwasanmi Saka Lawal:
One crucial point that is missing here is that Nigerians in their thousands on Twitter protested President Buhari’s tweet. According to their rules, every protest must be scrutinised to determine its validity. In reality, it violated their rule 4. The alibi of bias made against Twitter on Nnamdi Kanu’s tweet is self indicting. Nigeria’s information handlers never sensitized and mobilised Nigerians to protest to Twitter, they’re busy with mundane things. A government that fails to listen to its peoples’ wishes, disobey court order at will, how would they obey simple rules of engagement with Twitter?
He whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. History has a way of repeating itself, this was how he started in 1984 and Decree 4 was the final stroke that broke the camel back. The Aso Rock occupant and his extremist supporters should be very careful, this is 2021! Off he goes to China for internet gateway, ordering media houses to deactivate social media accounts, while bandits and killer herdsmen wreak havoc across the land.
There is hunger and despair in the land, poverty and insecurity on the increase, he and his extremists supporters care less. Some people still think they are not affected, well we shall see. We now have a Dear Leader no more a president, a Tyrant whose words and thoughts are laws. Next step is to set out dress code for the citizens all in the name of patriotism. We are on the road to China, North Korea and Hitler’s Germany! We voted for a President not a Dear Leader, Nigeria isn’t China or North Korea!
Benny Kinxu GH:
Dear sir Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN, the same was extended towards Donald J. Trump and he Didn’t die, and besides it was as a result of Nigerians trending and reporting the post that it got the attention of Twitter which led to removing the tweets and besides this things happen mostly in private owned social networks like that, “Nigeria own grievances no Dey ever get touch of reality Abeg” Sir this shows the level at which everyone would be treated in this very Nigeria wey no help anybody.
To the first place, the same government that is planning to regulate the social media space on the pretence of what it termed HATE SPEECH shouldn’t have used the same platform to resurrect the ghost of Biafra. The government is only showcasing its dictatorship on all fronts. God bless you SAN
Bestman O Besty:
Ever since Buhari became President sir, your thoughts on issues that have to do with president Buhari and his Government it’s nothing to take home for me anymore.
With the recent leaked Memo from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission seeking to gag the newspaper review of the electronic media, it has become crystal clear that the government is very uncomfortable with criticism of its actions and policies, which have increased in recent times. The solution to this is not to suppress dissenting views but rather to improve upon effective performance. When a government performs to the satisfaction of the people, a critical media will not be popular with the masses. If the media prospers with scathing attacks on the government, then it means that particular government is not doing well at all. A government loved by the people will in no time run out negative media. So, the ball is in the court of the President and his men.
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