Reps investigate Twitter ban, summon Lai Mohammed

THE House of Representatives has mandated its committees on communications, justice, information and culture, and national security and intelligence to investigate suspension of Twitter by the presidency.

Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila, who gave the order during plenary on Tuesday, also directed the committees to summon Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed for questioning.

Gbajabiamila, while noting that the lower chamber of the National Assembly recognised the role the micro-blogging site played both in communication and trade, lamented that the House had been inundated with comments about the decision, requests for intervention and criticism.


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“The House of Representatives recognises that Twitter, like other social media networks, is an important tool for communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation who have used these networks for enterprise and innovation with great success,” he said.

“It is in service of our obligations under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our moral duty to the Nigerian people, that the leadership of the House has decided to mandate the House Committees on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence to immediately commence an investigation to determine the circumstances of the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and the legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

“The Committees are additionally mandated to invite the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to brief the House of Representatives on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and to report to the House within ten days.”

He urged the committees to act with speed and sound judgment “to address this issue that has animated our national conversations over the last few days.”

Lai Mohammed had announced the ban in a statement on Friday shortly after Twitter deleted a controversial and violent tweet by President Buhari.

The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) announced, in a statement on Saturday, that it had complied with the government directives. However, millions of Nigerians have continued to use the platform through Virtual Private Networks (VPN).






     

     

    The Nigerian government has, however, said it will lift the ban if only the platform can be used responsibly.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama gave the condition in a meeting with envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union in Nigeria on Monday.

    Onyeama noted that the micro-blogging platform was not taken down because it was threatening the country, but the ban was meant to stop Twitter from being used for criminal activities.

    The minister stressed that while the government would accommodate criticisms and diverse opinions, it would not sit back and watch social media become a tool for destabilising the country.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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