By Adebisi Onanuga
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Monday condemned the directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to all broadcast stations in the country to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect.
SERAP described the directive to the electronic stations as “patently illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.”
The NBC had reportedly stated that the decision followed the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over purported use of the platform for “activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
But SERAP in a statement Monday by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare stated: “This directive by the NBC is itself unlawful because it is based on another unlawful decision by the Federal Government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria.
“The NBC’s directive has political interference written all over it. It is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, media freedom, media independence and diversity. The directive must be immediately withdrawn.”
The statement read in part: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. This action by the NBC is yet another nail in the coffin for human rights, media freedom and independent journalism under this government.
“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 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.”