The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says the push to prosecute Nigerian Twitter users after the Federal Government’s ban on the social medial platform will serve as a deterrent to other violators.
Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, had on June 4 announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria for double standards, alleging that Nigerians used Twitter to spread false information.
Malami, less than 24 hours after the announcement, sought to enforce the ban by threatening to arrest and prosecute anyone who tweets in Nigeria.
Nigerians have been downloading VPNs and other browsers with built-in protocols that obscure their location, to circumvent the ban, which came without recourse to any existing law.
Mr Malami told the Committee to Protect Journalists via a messaging app on Tuesday:
The essence of the law is to achieve stability in the country and prosecution will serve as a deterrence to others.
President Muhammadu Buhari, despite the continued condemnation of his decision by the country’s major opposition party, the PDP, human rights activists, legal practitioners, and the international community, has remained adamant.
Malami, who doubles as Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, said that even though Nigeria upheld rights to free speech, such freedom “has never been absolute, unqualified and unrestrained.”
Meanwhile, Malami was caught using a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass the government’s access restriction to log into the microblogging site on Tuesday.
He gleefully announced the deactivation of his Twitter account on Facebook, not minding that he broke an order laid by Buhari.
The Twitter ban followed the social media platform’s deletion of Mr Buhari’s ‘genocidal’ post against recalcitrant Igbos amidst ongoing violent attacks, especially on security forces and government facilities.