[By VICTOR NZE]
Despite the ‘indefinite’ suspension slammed on operations of micro-blogging site, Twitter by the Federal Government, late Friday, Nigerians have defied the order as they thronged the platform to raise opposition to the ban.
The defiance also comes on the heels of another directive by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who Saturday, directed the Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) to ‘immediately’ prosecute violators of the Federal Government ban on Twitter in Nigeria.
“Mr Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, DPPF, at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government’s de-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“Mr Malami directed the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (sic), NCC and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay,” the statement said.
However, reacting to the directive by Malami, the PDP aside describing the order as ‘blatantly unconstitutional,’ also said it was ‘illegal, null and completely of no moment,’ a statement by Malami ‘s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, Saturday, read.
Already, network service providers while confirming under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), while confirming that there has been a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to block Nigerians from accessing the platform, said the action has been implemented.
A statement jointly signed by ALTON Chairman and Executive Secretary, Gbenga Adebayo and Gbolahan Awonuga reads, “We, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.
“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) the industry regulator.
“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.
“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.”
However, by Sunday afternoon, under a newly-created trend, #KeepitOn, Nigerian Twitter users had reached nearly one million tweets on the platform, as each tweet questioned government’s reasons for banning Twitter use in the country, as well as other germane issues bordering on growing insecurity.
Prominent Nigerians, including medical doctors, broadcasters, ICT experts, rights activists, and others, from across all ages joined in the Twitter campaign to resist what they termed as losing of freedom and rights, which they say the ban portends for the country’s populace.
It would be recalled that Federal Government conveyed the ban in a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Friday.
The statement signed by his Special Assistant, Segun Adeyemi said the ‘Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.’
Federal Government has been involved in a running battle with the social media platform over its decision to delete the tweet from the Twitter handle of President Muhammadu Buhari which had threatened to rehash the 1967 Civil war experience on those perpetrating destruction of the assets and critical infrastructure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), particularly those located in the South East of the country.
Already, the social media site is no longer accessible via the network companies as Nigerians at home have now resorted to other means of operating Twitter on their devices using new VPNs, and others.
Some of the tweets as captured by Oracle Today, as at Sunday evening, read below:
Former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri (@renoomokri): “I don’t know why Nigerians are worried about @MBuhari’s #TwitterBan. Did he not ban overseas treatment for public officials? Is he not also the chief violator? Don’t mind the hypocrite. Tweet. If they arrest, we will provide legal defence
#KeepItOn #TableShaker #BuhariTormentor
Reno Omokri (@renoomokri): “The @OfficialAPCNg said they support the #TwitterBan. Yet they have not deactivated their Twitter account. The APC also said they will win again in 2023.
“What do you say as a Nigerian citizen?
#KeepItOn #TableShaker #BuhariTormentor
Reno Omokri (@renoomokri): “He lost 2011 election and cried. Gullible ones mistook it for patriotism. He lost #EndSARS and banned #Bitcoin, not minding economic implications. Twitter deleted his war mongering tweet. He banned them! Big baby Buhari needs a big nappy!
#KeepItOn #TableShaker #BuhariTormentor
Sports journalist/Broadcaster, Deji Faremi (@deejayfaremi): “All the deaths in the last 24 hours, yet no press conference. Tells you what the priorities are for our leaders. #KeepitOn.”
Rights activist, Rinu #EndSARSFireWater pistol (@SavvyRinu): “If your business is affected by this #TwitterBan, kindly retweet this.
“You can also drop a comment about how you have been affected. #KeepitOn”
XpsilverFish cake with swirl design (@Xpsilver1): “After #TwitterBan in just 48hours Ebonyi state in chaos. Igangan is burning, sporadic shooting already in Owerri. The genocidal tweet is playing before our eyes #KeepitOn”
Gbemisola Aníwúrà (@gbemy01): “This is action time! Stop talking! Create awareness! Carry everyone in your neighborhood along! Fight! If you can’t fight! Blow your whistle! Your night security officers must be ready to rescue you at anytime!! Support them with all they need to protect you!! Wake up! #KeepitOn”
Gbemisola Aníwúrà (@gbemy01): “Support your night security officers with enough weapons! Divide yourselves in groups, take turns to watch your neighborhoods with them! Security is now your business!! Everyone in your neighborhood must wear their whistle like a neck chain! Be ready or perish! Wake Up #KeepitOn”
Kwaondoanamya (@KwarkaaMary}: “This protest should be trending number1..Abuja people please come out June12 and lets make it more louder this time…I’ve a new placard on groundRaised fist #KeepitOn #TwitterBan #June12Protest.
#June12th (@philip_george70): “My tweeter famFolded hands.
“From South Africa to Nigeria, from Ghana to Kenya, from Namibia to Jamaica, from Cameroon to South Sudan, from Texas to Nax Vegas, Spain, India,Qatar,Dubai, south Sudan,Philippines and wherever you are I say #KeepitOn and God bless you. keep engaging.”
Sports journalist/broadcaster, Bolarinwa Olajide (@iambolar): “Killings in Imo and Oyo state today. No word from the President or Presidency. Twitter is their problem. It is well. #KeepitOn”
Bolarinwa Olajide (@iambolar): “Looks like everyone is angry today on Twitter. It’s understandable. The country Nigeria is upside down. #KeepitOn”
Tweeting under the #OurFavOnlineDoc StethoscopeFlag of NigeriaFlag of United KingdomGem stone, a medical doctor (@DrOlufunmilayo): “Initially, these mad people called it “indefinite suspension”. When the US Embassy, Sweden, UK Govt and others lambasted the morons, they said it’s a “temporary ban”.
“Complete utter bumbling idiots who don’t even have the balls to stick to their own guns.
“My people #KeepitOn
#OurFavOnlineDoc StethoscopeFlag of NigeriaFlag of United KingdomGem stone (@DrOlufunmilayo): “88 people killed in Kebbi yesterday. Over 10 people killed in Oyo State overnight.
“Have you seen Lai Mohammed on TV talking about any of this?
“But Twitter deleted a genocidal Buhari tweet. These animals started crying like toddlers on national TV.
“Where is the shame? #KeepitOn
IRUNNIA ™ (@Irunnia_): “Please Buhari should just calculate his total salary for the remaining 2 years and tell us. We will open a GoFundMe & contribute money then give to him so he can resign. We are tired”.
Somebody said this and I agree
Young DAWG (@neverlie7935) Replying to (@Irunnia_): “I thought about this thing; the government lost over 2billion, right? If they lost that kind of money that could make an impact in a national project, and they still choose to be this ignorant, it means they have more than this in their hands. This is pure wickedness.”
EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria): “Do members of the National Assembly understand the enormity of the responsibility bestowed on them?
“It’s so unfortunate that the present National Assembly has denied Nigerians quality representation in that all-important institution.