The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has directed that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed be summoned over Twitter Ban. The Speaker said this on Tuesday at the resumption of plenary after a two week break. He said the move was in response to the reactions of Nigerians over the suspension of Twitter operations in the nation.
Speaking on the purpose of the invitation, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the minister was being invited to brief the House on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria. He alleged that the action of the house is based on its obligations under the constitution and its moral duty to Nigerians as he has been overwhelmed with requests for intervention and criticism.
“The proper role of the legislature in circumstances like this is first to peel back the layers of the decision-making process to unravel the issues until we develop an understanding of the why and the how of executive decisions. Following that, the legislature must make sure that regulatory and enforcement actions by the government are in accordance with the laws of the land, that due process of law has been followed to the latter and that the outcomes of regulatory decisions do not result in adverse consequences for the country and all our people,” He said.
The Need For The Probe Over Nigeria Twitter Ban
Expressing his reasons for the invitation cum probe, Gbajabiamila said: “The House of Representatives recognises that Twitter, like other social media networks, is an important tool for communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation who have used these networks for enterprise and innovation with great success. The House also recognises that as social media has been a tool for good, it can also be a tool for bad actors. As such, the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring that these platforms are not used to commit vile actions against individuals and the State.
He stated that although the house is attentive to the concerns of the Nigerian citizens, it is also under obligation to “hear from the government so that from the abundance of information, we reach the level of awareness that allows us to discharge our role dispassionately.”
The Appointed Committee
The Speaker has appointed the Committees on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence to probe the Twitter ban; their responsibilities were to “determine:
“a. The circumstances of the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria; and
b. The legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”
The committees has been given 10 days to discharge these duties; they have been urged to act with speed and sound judgement and report to the house as their report will determine the House’s decision on the matter.