NIGERIANS have continued to use Twitter, defying the Federal Government’s threat to prosecute violators of ban on the social media platform.
The ICIR understands that many Nigerians are accessing Twitter through the Virtual Private Network (VPN) and have continued to tweet after changing it to a location outside Nigeria.
Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami had said on Saturday that the government would prosecute anyone found accessing Twitter after its suspension.
But a human rights activist and former presidential aspirant Omoyele Sowore, who tweets @YeleSowore, has continued to post using Twitter despite its suspension.
A lawyer and human rights activist Inibehe Effiong, confirming the use of the VPN, posted that he would continue to tweet and disregard the unconstitutional suspension of the platform.
“Malami, the Chief Lawlessness Officer of the Federation is at it again. Madness upon madness. This is supposed to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Nigerians, ignore this infantile statement. It is brutum fulmen. Using VPN to bypass the illegal suspension of Twitter is not a crime.
“I, Inibehe Effiong, hereby state that I have been tweeting and will continue to tweet in clear defiance of the Buhari regime’s unconstitutional suspension of Twitter.
“AGF Malami should come and arrest me. No one has hacked my account. I’m tweeting intentionally,” Effiong posted.
Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Professor of Law Chidi Odinkalu, who tweets @ChidiOdinkalu, has also been using the platform after the government’s threat of prosecuting those accessing the platform through VPN.
Former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili also posted on Twitter after the ban, saying that she would be happy to be prosecuted by the AGF for exercising her fundamental human rights.
“How many fellow Nigerians presently on @Twitter are happy to be prosecuted by @NigeriaGov for exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right to speech and association? Please join me and joyfully raise your hands so @MalamiSan can find us quickly and take to court,” Ezekwesili posted.
A Nollywood actress Beverly Naya posted that she was using the VPN to access Twitter since the suspension took effect.
“Actually cannot believe I’m using my VPN for Twitter, they’ve actually shut it down. No words! Livid,” Naya said.
A finance expert and tutor Bayo Adeyinka confessed that he had switched to Thunder VPN in order to access Twitter.
A popular social media user Wale Adetona, posting via @slimfit, also said since access to Twitter had been blocked through network providers and other internet providers, the only option was to use the VPN. He has continued to tweet since then.
“Access to Twitter using Spectranet and other ISPs blocked too! VPN or nothing now,” Adetona posted.
Like Adetona, many other Nigerians have continued to use the platform despite the Federal Government’s threat to prosecute VPN users.
In an effort to share information with others on the use of the platform with VPN, another user identified as Sanpedro, tweeting @ChidozieModest, shared a post with other Nigerians on how to ensure they had access to Nigerian contents after changing their location to another country using the VPN.
“How to make sure you’re seeing Nigeria content from your Location on TWITTER, Step 1: go to Settings. Step 2: Switch off ‘Show Content in your location’ Step 3: Explore and Pick Nigeria. With that we will still be together from Different VPN location,” SanPedro tweeted.
Many other Nigerians have also continued to use the platform after the suspension, most especially for calling for a nationwide protest against bad governance through the hashtag, #June12Protest.
Others are also calling for the government to reverse its action through the hashtag #KeepitOn, which has attracted foreign interests also.
Meanwhile, a civil society organisation Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) has said the Nigerian government cannot prosecute its citizens for using Twitter because there was no law forbidding it.
“There is NO law in Nigeria today that would allow the prosecution of anyone simply for using Twitter in Nigeria. The constitutional right to no punishment without the law is absolute. This means that it cannot be restricted in any way,” SERAP posted.