• How do police arrest prominent Nigerians because they are using Twitter? – Force The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, and the General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Pastor William Kumuyi, have defied the Federal Government’s order directing Nigerians to stop using Twitter.
While Adeboye said his tweets were covered by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Kumuyi said his tweets were targeted at a global audience.
The clerics said these as the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Republic of Ireland, after a meeting with the Federal Government on Monday insisted on their position that the suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government was a violation of the freedom of expression.
Also, there were indications on Monday that the police were confused on how to handle Nigerians who were still using Twitter despite the Federal Government’s suspension of its operations in Nigeria.
Earlier on Monday, the RCCG General Overseer, Adeboye, justified his use of Twitter. In a tweet, he stated his church was present across the world.
He wrote, “The Redeemed Christian Church of God is domiciled in more than 170 nations and territories. The tweets here are in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Kumuyi, while also tweeting, said, “In view of the Twitter ban in Nigeria, please note that the content shared on this handle is targeted at a global audience in more than five continents and over 100 nations and we share the content from any of these locations.”
The churches of the two revered Christian leaders also copied their tweets.
Checks by our correspondents showed that the Senior Pastor of the Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos, Nigeria, Pastor Sam Adeyemi; the General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, have also continued to tweet despite the ban.
Adeyemi retweeted around 2pm on Monday an event posted by Horasis @HorasisOrg, where he was scheduled to be speaking.
Suleiman, on his part, has been consistently tweeting and retweeting posts and events.His last two posts on Monday were birthday greetings of a junior pastor and his daughter, respectively.
The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, a staunch supporter of the present regime, also tweeted on Sunday despite the ban.
The Federal Government last Friday suspended Twitter barely two days after the social media platform deleted a tweet by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), which many Nigerians believed was repugnant.
The Buhari regime subsequently came under fire from several rights groups across the world for stifling free speech.
Amidst the public outcry and criticism that followed the government’s decision, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Saturday directed the Director of Public Prosecution in his office to begin the process of prosecuting violators of the government’s suspension order.
Despite the ban, however, many Nigerians have been using Virtual Private Networks to access Twitter, a move which has further infuriated the government.
Titter ban: Police in dilemma over Malami’s directive on prosecution
Multiple sources in the police headquarters in Abuja on Monday told our correspondents that the police authorities were in a dilemma on how to enforce Malami’s directive.
One of the sources, who is a senior police officer, said, “Honestly, it is not something the police authorities will want to dabble into. Do you expect the police to begin to arrest these prominent Nigerians who you have mentioned because they are using Twitter?
“You know that policemen are already the ‘whipping boys’ of the Nigerian society always. Do you expect us to add this to our burden?”.
Another police officer confided in one of our correspondents that the police authorities were not favourably disposed to being involved in the enforcement of the suspension, saying the Office of the AGF would do so.
When reminded that before the Office of the AGF could prosecute, the police would have to first arrest the suspects, the source said, “I am not aware of any plan to arrest anybody.
“In any case, it is not the police alone that can arrest offenders. For instance, are officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps not empowered to arrest?”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police, did not take his calls when PUNCH made several attempts to speak with him on Monday.
He has yet to return the calls or respond to the text message sent to him on the matter as of the time of filing this report.
Malami’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, also did not respond to enquiries on the matter on Monday.
Arresting, prosecuting Twitter offenders not our job –NCC
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission has said that it is not within its purview to arrest and prosecute violators of the suspension order.
Recall that in the Saturday statement, Malami had directed the Director of Public Prosecution to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the NCC and other relevant government agencies “to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”
But when contacted on Monday on how far the NCC had gone in collaborating with the DPP to prosecute offenders, the Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, said it was not within the power of the commission to arrest or prosecute.
The NCC is a regulator. It is not within our power to arrest or prosecute. Based on our statement, we limited ourselves based on the order given to us by the government, which was to instruct the operators to disconnect, which was what we did. So, the other aspects are not within our purview,” Adinde said.
US, UK, Canada, others insist on position, FG begs for understanding
But the Federal Government at the meeting with US, UK and Canada on Monday pleaded with them for support and understanding over its decision to ban Twitter, saying it was already in discussion with the mirco- logging site.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, spoke on behalf of the five envoys and their representatives in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama.
Leonard, who told the minister that access to social media by citizens was germane to freedom of speech, which in turn is a prerequisite for a democratic culture, also advised the Nigerian government to identify those who committed crimes and use judicial processes to deal with offenders, adding “but to constrain, that is not the behaviour.”
The envoy also said that they were glad to hear that Nigeria was interacting with Twitter.
“We recognise the official position of the Nigerian government on the responsible use of social media but we remain firm in our position that free access to information is very important and perhaps more important during troubled times”, Leonard stressed.
The envoy said further that it was actually in troubled times that there was the need for individual expression and open conversation and accountability.
“We are here as partners and we want to see Nigeria succeed. It’s very clear that we are Nigeria’s strongest partners on issues of security and we recognise the daunting times in the way of the security challenges that confront Nigeria.
While they are daunting, they are not insurmountable and part of the ways to surmount them is the partnership of the people you see represented here”, the envoy stated.
Onyeama confirmed that the Nigerian government was in dialogue with Twitter on the best ways to resolve the matter and perhaps lift the ban.
“As you yourself have said, discussions are ongoing with Twitter, we want to see how that progresses. So I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension.
There are conversations with our partners and with the social media platform”, he stated.
The minister told the envoys that the Federal Government was not against the use of social media but wanted to see it use for global good and responsible communications.
He said, “We know the power of words and when you have that kind of power to manage and facilitate communication to billions of people, it has to come with responsibility.
So, we are taking this measure to see to what extent we can rebalance the media as forces of good and stop them being used as a platform for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality.
Onyeama, who said that the meeting was meant to clarify issues, said, “We are asking them to also support us as we confront all these challenges and we have listened to their opinions.
“You were all aware when Mr President was elected, security was number one on the list of his priorities and it is something he really wants to deliver for the people of Nigeria. Without security everything else fails. Investment will not come and lives will be displaced.”
The minister said social media had many advantages, adding that the communication revolution should not be use to destabilise the country.
He stated, “We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing like that. That is not the justification. The justification for taking this measure is to see to what extent we can rebalance the media as forces of good and stop them from being used as a platform for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality and encouragement of criminality.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday issued more directives on its ban on Twitter as the National Broadcasting Commission ordered broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect.
The Acting Director General of the NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba, issued the directives in a statement titled, ‘Suspend Twitter handles.’
The commission directed the broadcast stations to “de- install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in.
“Consequent on the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission directs all broadcasting stations in Nigeria to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.
“In compliance to the above directive, broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de- install Twitter handles and desist from using twitter as a source of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in.”
He cited the relevant sections of the NBC Act to justify his directives.
IPC, MRA threaten to drag FG before AU, UN
The groups stated that the action was an unjustifiable violation of the rights of all Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information, noting that the action of the government violated the international and African charters the country was a party to.
This was contained in a joint statement signed by MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo; and the Executive Director of IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade.
The statement was titled, ‘MRA, IPC condemn Federal Government’s Twitter ban, threaten to lodge complaints before the AU, UN bodies.’ ,,
Na’Abba Accuses Governors Of Killing Democracy In Nigeria
A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has lampooned governors in the country saying they have ruined democracy.
Na’Abba, while speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa Service yesterday, said state governors have hijacked democracy, manipulating primaries of their political parties for their cronies to emerge.
“The governors have drawn a line in politics in which if you are not their boy you won’t become anybody or get elected at all levels. This is happening in both the PDP and APC.
“Democracy should always give room for interaction among people and they should be allowed to vote the right person they want. But the governors have since changed that, there i…
Appeal Court Rekindles Jegede’s Hope Of Sacking Aketi With Inconclusive Judgment
The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday partially upheld the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), in the October 10, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Jegede, who is challenging Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s victory, had approached the appellate court after the tribunal dismissed his petition for lacking in merit.
His counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, had asked the court to sack Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, because they were allegedly not properly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But the respondents’ counsel, Akin Olujimi (SAN), for Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the APC and Charles Edosanmwon (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), faulted all the arguments of Jegede’s counsel.
They contended that the case was a pre-election matter.
In the lead judgment by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, the court partly allowed Jegede’s appeal on issues one, two, four and five.
She dismissed the appeal on issues three, six and seven.
In their judgments, Justice H. A. Barka, Justice J. G. Abundaga and Justice Andenyangtso Alli dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Orji-Abadua said the Electoral Act cannot override provisions of the Constitution on qualification or disqualification of a candidate in an election.
“The appeal is partly allowed and partly dismissed,” she said.
The PDP and Jegede vowed to challenge the decision.
The party’s spokesman Kennedy Peretei said in a statement: “In concluding her lead judgment, Justice Orji-Abadua said the appeal was partially dismissed and partially allowed. To the ordinary man in the street, the judgment was ‘inconclusive’.
“The kernel of the Eyitayo Jegede/PDP petition was whether or not a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be allowed to stay; whether or not Mai Mala Buni, as a sitting Governor of Yobe State, can double as National Chairman of the APC, to sign the nomination of Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for the governorship election.
“While the Court of Appeal acknowledged that it was a violation of the Constitution, it still went ahead to dismiss the appeal.
“We are still studying the details of the judgment, by virtue of the fact that it was delivered via Zoom. But we have sufficient grounds to appeal the decision of the court. We are confident the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land, will do justice.”
Akeredolu has extended an olive branch to Jegede, urging him to join hands with him in building the state.
Addressing reporters, Akeredolu said: “I have said this over and over: this case itself is so flimsy for me as a person. And it is clear because where you believe that you can go through the back door and upturn the will of the people, it is not going to work.
“We had an election in which the party won 15 out of the local governments; you won three. You are not contesting the result of the election, but you are hinging your petition on the Chairman of the party who signed the nomination that was forwarded to INEC.
“For me, it is clear. With God on our side, no matter where they go about this case, it will be the same result.
“It is just like when Yoruba say that if you throw the cutlass up 50 times by the time it’s landing, it will land on its side.
“Tayo, for one reason or the other, I said to him, we don’t need to pursue this case. I had called him once or twice. I don’t see why we are going about this action; that both of us can come together to work for the benefit of the state. That is my own belief.
“I respect him, but he must have a reason behind him pursuing this case the way he’s pursuing it. It is either the party is the one pushing him or he’s the one pushing himself. Whichever one it is, I know there must be something behind what he’s doing.
“But I can assure him, like a man who is building with straw, I can assure him nothing will come out of this case.
“I will call on him again for the umpteenth time: let him come, let us work together to build that state and let us work together for the Southwest and let us work together for Nigeria.
“Importantly, he is one person that I have a lot of respect for; he has respect for me. I see him as a brother. But in election matters, you cannot avoid this kind of contestation.”
Agbakoba Rubbishes Restructuring, Wants Regional Autonomy In Constitution Review Package
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has asked the National Assembly to consider regional autonomy in the review of the 1999 Constitution.
Following calls for restructuring, among other issues, the National Assembly had recently held public hearings across the country on the proposed review of the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking on the review process in a statement yesterday, Agbakoba said regional autonomy is the best solution to some of the challenges facing the country.
“Calls for restructuring have, in my personal view, become a catch-all phrase that has introduced more confusion than solution. I believe the simple way to go is by regional autonomy,” he said.
“Regional autonomy refers to the governance and administration of a federating unit in the interest of the local people, according to their aspirations. Nigeria is made up of multi-ethnic nations managed by a central authority. This model has proved unsuccessful.
“Europe understood that diversity is best managed by regional autonomy. Switzerland has four ethnic groups. Each of them shares the presidency through four cantons that make up their federating units.
“According to Prof. George Obiozor, even though Quebec is the only fully French-speaking province, yet Canada is bilingual for the sake of Quebec. On the other hand, Yugoslavia mismanaged its diversity and the result was the emergence of six distinct countries. The same fate befell Czechoslovakia, now the nations of Czechs and Slovaks.”
He said devolution of powers is a related concept to regional autonomy, as this means the transfer of powers from one level of government to another and vice versa.
The senior lawyer also suggested that legitimacy can be conferred on the constitutional review process by full involvement and incorporation of the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
“Prof. Ben Nwabueze has indicated that ethnic nationalities are the true representatives of Nigeria. To quote him, ‘Nigeria has no territory other than the traditional territories inhabited by its constituent nationalities from time immemorial – Yorubaland, Igboland, Hausaland, Tivland, Kanuri, Ijaw, etc. It is the ethnic nationalities that ceded or granted sovereign powers of government over their territories to Britain which makes them (i.e. the ethnic nationalities) the original and primary stakeholders in the Nigerian state,’” Agbakoba said.
He also expressed optimism that more would be achieved by giving prominent seats to the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
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