Asking TV, radio stations to deactivate Twitter accounts unlawful —SERAP

June 7, 2021
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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has decried the directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to all broadcast stations in the country to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect, describing it as “unlawful and unconstitutional”.

Ripples Nigeria reported that the acting Director-General, NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, on Monday, directed all broadcast stations in the country still using the Twitter platform after its ban by the Federal Government to suspend its use with immediate effect.

In a statement titled: “Suspend Twitter handles”, NBC directed the broadcast stations to un-install their Twitter handles and desist from using the platform as a source of information gathering for news, and programmes presentation especially the phone-in programmes.

The Commission maintained that its decision followed the suspension of Twitter operations in the country over the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

But SERAP in a statement on Monday, issued by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said the NBC directive is unlawful as it is based on another unlawful decision by the Federal Government to suspend Twitter operations.

The right group maintained that NBC’s directive has political interference written all over it, saying it is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, and media freedom, and called for it to be immediately withdrawn.

The statement read: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. The action by NBC is yet another nail in the coffin for human rights, media freedom, and independent journalism under this government.

READ ALSO: SERAP reports Nigerian govt to Commonwealth over ban on Twitter, urges sanctions

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should publicly and vigorously express concerns over the Nigerian government’s increasingly brutal crackdown on media freedom, and use all possible means to urge the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to protect and respect freedom of expression.

“The international community should stand with the broadcast stations and journalists and make clear to the Nigerian government that freedom of expression, media freedom, transparency, and accountability, as well as respect for the rule of law, are all essential to democracy.

“The UN and donors should continue to take every opportunity to call on the Nigerian government to rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, respect freedom of expression, and media freedom, and hold to account anyone targeting broadcast stations and journalists simply for carrying out their professional duty.”

By Victor Uzoho

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