Leaders of Civil Society Organisations that work on governance, corruption, elections, digital rights and inclusion, women’s rights and journalism in Nigeria, say they will keep using Twitter and other social media channels to engage with the citizens.
The development followed the recent ban of the microblogging platform, Twitter, by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the intention to arrest anyone found using the social media handle.
Over 30 leaders of CSOs took the decision as contain in a statement they made available to Financial Street on Monday.
They quoted Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist in the English language, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as saying, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”
They said they strongly support statements released by various civil society organisations and other stakeholders, condemning the suspension of the microblogging platform, Twitter, in Nigeria, as this represents a continued assault on the civic space and anti-democratic clampdown on free speech.
“We are also aware of the statement credited to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, threatening to arrest anyone who continues to tweet after the announced suspension.
“We, therefore, wish to categorically say that we, as individuals, and our organisations, do not know any law that the act of sharing information breaks, and will continue to use Twitter, other social media platforms, and other media channels, to share information and engage with citizens,” they said.
They noted that Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) made it impossible to convict any person for a criminal offence if that offence is not defined and its penalty not prescribed in a written law.
“On the power of Section 36(12), which protects a fundamental human right, we therefore note and state unequivocally that the Attorney General’s statement threatening to prosecute citizens using Twitter contravenes the Constitution and is a violation of human rights and an utter abuse of power.
“We stand with Nigerians who continue to exercise their fundamental human rights, especially as we will be celebrating Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12,” the leaders added.
The CSOs include the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan; Executive Director of EiE Nigeria, Yemi Adamolekun; Centre for Liberty, Adebayo Raphael, Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Cheta Nwanze (@chxta); Chioma Agwuegbo of TechHerNG; Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution; Concerned Nigerians; Director of Programs at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu; Deaf Women Aloud Initiative; Executive Director of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Dorothy Njemanze and Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda, Edetean Ojo.
Others are the Connected Development (CODE)/ Follow The Money, Hamzat Lawal; Founder of Dataphyte, Joshua Olufemi; Executive Director, Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan; Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Kolawole Oluwadare; Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development; Centre for Impact Advocacy, Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga; Nana Nwachukwu; and Citizen Gavel, Nelson Olanipekun.
The list also include the Executive Director of Education as a Vaccine, Olabukunola Williams; Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Oluwatosin Alagbe; Raising New Voices Initiative; Director of BudgIT, Seun Onigbinde; Tunde Aremu; Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation, Udy Akpan and Executive Director of Centre for Information Technology and Development, Y.Z Y’au.
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