Abubakar Malami faced harsh criticism for its decision to suspend the operation of the American microblogging social network Twitter in Nigeria, with some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) saying that the action was in violation of Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
They also ruled that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami’s directive to the Federal Director of Public Prosecution to arrest and prosecute any Twitter user who disobeyed the suspension order was in violation of Section 36 (12) of the amended Constitution.
Section 39 (1) stipulates: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
The suspension, according to the senior lawyers, was an impediment to citizens’ access to information.
They further argued that the threat of prosecution by the AGF has no basis in law as it clearly violates Section 36 (12), which states: “Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that the offence is defined and the penalty, therefore, is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a law of a state, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of law.”
Malami had asked the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to collaborate with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to guarantee quick prosecution of any violators, according to a statement by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu.
Dr. Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue State, condemned the suspension of Twitter as an ill-advised diversion from the nation’s underlying challenges of insecurity and injustice.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has joined the battle, threatening to sue the federal government over Twitter’s shutdown.
The suspension was illegal in the first place since it violated citizens’ fundamental human rights.
The lawyers said that the government cannot prosecute somebody under a non-existent statute, citing provisions of the law.
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