Federal Government Denies Stopping Nigerians From Using Twitter

The Federal government said it has not stopped people from using Twitter in the country despite announcing the suspension of the operations of the social media platform in the country.

The claim was made by the country’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in a counter-affidavit deposed to in response to an originating motion filed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who is suing the government on the legitimacy of enforcing a Twitter suspension in Nigeria.

In an affidavit deposed by one Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the government, it was stated that the suspension of Twitter was not an abuse of human rights because Nigerians were still using Twitter despite the suspension.

Many Nigerians are circumventing the suspension order by using virtual private networks after telecommunications companies and internet service providers blocked access to the social media platform.

“The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria,” the lawyer to the government said.

“Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.

“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never stopped the applicant (Effiong) and the class of persons he seeks to represent from voicing their opinions to access government information and offer criticism where necessary.”

The ban came into effect on Saturday with millions of users blocked from accessing the site. While many young Nigerians are, however, circumventing the ban by using virtual private networks (VPN), Malami had threatened that Twitter users will be prosecuted, saying their actions violate the ban.

But Effiong is seeking nine reliefs, including an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further suspending, deactivating or banning the operation and accessibility of Twitter or any other social media service in Nigeria, he says the act was in violation of his rights.

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