OrderPaperToday – The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria by the Federal government.

The coalition said the decision is a violation of the fundamental human right of expression as guaranteed by Section 39, of the 1999 Constitution.

“The ban on Twitter has a perilous impact on the freedom of expression of Nigerian citizens and the press on statutory level. Worsening these threats is the introduction of two prohibitive legislative proposals – the Hate Speech and the Social Media Bills, which until recently were under consideration in the National Assembly,” a statement released on Tuesday said.

The coalition further noted “consistent patterns of attempt by the government to subvert the freedom of individuals and media organisations calls for a query about government intent to commit to nourishing democracy in Nigeria. It also calls for a deep interrogation of how the government in Nigeria flouts multiple treaty obligations to which Nigeria is a signatory”.

The Coalition revealed that aside from the law that supports freedom of the press and freedom of expression, in 2019, PTCIJ documented 27 laws that constrain press freedom embedded in various laws, including the penal act, criminal code act, official secret act, and national broadcasting commission act among others.

The press statement signed by over 10 civil society organisations, media and digital rights activists reads in part “Articles 19 of the Universal Declarations on Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, as well as Sections 65 and 66 of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol, not to mention other United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) protocols are just a handful of international instruments that the country has committed to but constantly flouts with regards to its obligation to promote a free press at home”.

The Coalition expressed their dismay that “a government that gathered the goodwill of the people on a promise of change has now stooped so low to ban a platform it used as a campaign tool to harness power”.

Recall that the National Broadcasting Commission had issued a press release asking all broadcasting stations to desist from using the Twitter microblogging platform as a source of information gathering and has threatened to prosecute citizens who continued to use the platform. Meanwhile several civil society organisations and rights group have denounced the government’s ban as unconstitutional and undemocratic.

The Coalition concluded by imploring the government to retrace its steps in constraining the freedom of the press and expression.

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