Members of the House of Representatives joint committee mandated to investigate the suspension of activities of Twitter in Nigeria by the Executive arm, on Tuesday, engaged the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over the action.
Following the decision of the Federal Government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria on June 4, the House resolved on June 8 to investigate the circumstances that led to the got decision.
The House resolved among others, to seek clarification on the law the government relied upon suspending the operations of twitter.
The standing committees mandated to carry out the assignment were the Committees on Communications, Justice, Information/Culture and National Security/Intelligence.
During the investigative hearing held at the National Assembly on Tuesday, the lawmakers demanded to know why the executive arm decided to suspend twitter at a time when many Nigerian, especially the youth, depended on the microblogging and networking platform for their daily bread.
Some of the lawmakers also demanded to know why the decision was taken only after twitter took down a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, while others asked to know the law relied upon before the action was taken.
Yet, some lawmakers wondered why the relevant bodies such as the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) did not act previously when there were alleged infractions by twitter.
Responding, Lai Mohammed said the Federal Government only suspended twitter’s activities in Nigeria because of security threats.
He stated that based on the provisions of the constitution, personal liberty could be suspended when the interest and rights of the majority of Nigerians were in danger, noting that the decision was backed by different laws.
He said the Federal Government was empowered to take all necessary measures and give necessary orders to safeguard the country and critical national infrastructure from cyber threats or attacks.
“The decision of FG to suspend the activities of Twitter is well-founded in law”, he said.
The minister cited Section 3 of the National Security Act; Section 5 (1) (2) of the Terrorism Act, 2011; Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition and Prevention) Act; the CAMA, Articles 24, 25 and 26 of the African Union on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as the laws the Executive relied on to suspend the operations of microblogging site.
Some members of the panel lamented that the decision was taken without considering its consequences on the teaming youths who relied on twitter for survival.
Th joint committee, which is conducting the investigation expeditiously, is expected to submit its findings to the House soon.
Recall that the House had said any further actions it would take on the suspension would depend on the outcome of the investigation.