APC Governors Shun FG Directive On Twitter Ban

TECH DIGEST – Governors of Kaduna and Ondo states, Nasir El-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu respectively, have defied the federal government’s directive suspending activities of Twitter in Nigeria.

Both governors, who are also members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have made tweets through their verified accounts, daring the prosecution threats made by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Mr El-Rufai, at exactly 9:37 p.m. on Sunday, shared an opinion article titled “Based Nigeria: African country teaches US lesson in how to handle Big Tech tyranny”.

The article, authored by Nebojsa Malic, a Serbian-American journalist, justified the ban on Twitter, nudging the United States to learn from the move by the Nigerian government.

“Nigeria is a far more serious and ‘based’ country than the US, at least if President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to Twitter censorship, compared to that of Donald Trump’s,  is anything to go by,” Mr Malic wrote.

Governor Akeredolu, on the other hand, posted a statement reacting to the night attack that claimed several lives in Igangan community in Oyo State on Sunday.

He was reacting to the killings in his capacity as the Chairman of Southwest Governors Forum.

“We, on our part, are resolved to defend our people, their property, and all legitimate means of livelihood against both internal and external aggression. On this, there will be no compromise,” the statement read.

Government sources told PREMIUM TIMES that Governor El-Rufai has been outside the country for over a week. Although the source did not disclose his location, he said “the activities of Twitter is not banned in the country.”

When contacted, the spokesperson of Governor Akeredolu, Olabode Richard, said the microblogging platform was accessible to Nigerians on Sunday, adding that his principal did not make use of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) or other alternatives being explored by Nigerians.

He promised to give further response but was yet to reach out to our reporter as of the time of filing this report.

It however remains unclear if the order from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation will be effected on Messrs El-Rufai and Akeredolu.

Mr Malami had directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) in his office, “to swing into action and commence, in earnest, the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”

“Malami directed the DPPF to liase with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay, ” Mr Malami’s publicist, Umar Gwandu, had said on Saturday.

Recall that Information Minister Lai Mohammed, announced a ban on activities of the microblogging platform on Friday.

Mr Mohammed also disclosed that the federal government had ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to “immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”

Owing to the ban, Nigerians have been denied access to Twitter and can only access by bypassing domain restrictions through alternative media.

The suspension was sequel to Twitter’s deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial tweet about the civil war after some Nigerian users flagged it.

The government, in its response, accused the platform of bias against President Buhari and undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

Although the presidency says the ban is temporary and an attempt to curb fake news, human rights and foreign missions have berated the President Buhari-led administration for censorship, calling for a reversal of the suspension

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