You can't stop us from tweeting: 27 Civil Societies dare Buhari

Buhari

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Twenty-seven civil society organisations in Nigeria have told the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that they cannot be stopped from tweeting on Twitter.

The Federal Government had last Friday suspended Twitter indefinitely in Nigeria and vowed to prosecute anyone using VPN to tweet.

The civil societies in a joint statement on Tuesday said “We are leaders of civil society organisations that work on governance, corruption, elections, digital rights & inclusion, women’s rights and journalism in Nigeria.

“We 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,” they said.

According to them, they were also aware of the statement credited to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, threatening to arrest anyone who continued 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.

“We note that Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes 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,” they stated.

The organisations said they stood with Nigerians who continued to exercise their fundamental human rights, especially “as we will be celebrating Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12.”

Below are the organisations and their heads

Signed:

‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative (PIN)

‘Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, EiE Nigeria

Adebayo Raphael, Centre for Liberty

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

Cheta Nwanze (@chxta)

Chioma Agwuegbo, TechHerNG

Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution

Concerned Nigerians

Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa

Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI)

Dorothy Njemanze, Executive Director, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)

Edetean Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda

Hamzat Lawal, Connected Development [CODE] / Follow The Money

Joshua Olufemi, Founder, Dataphyte

Idayat Hassan, Executive Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)

Kolawole Oluwadare, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)

Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD)

Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Centre for Impact Advocacy (CiA)

Nana Nwachukwu

Nelson Olanipekun, Citizen Gavel

Olabukunola Williams, Executive Director, Education as a Vaccine

Oluwatosin Alagbe, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism

Raising New Voices Initiative

Seun Onigbinde, Director, BudgIT

Tunde Aremu

Udy Akpan, Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF)

Y.Z Y’au, Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)