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SERAP condemns purported plan by FG to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter via VPN

By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

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Human Rights Advocacy group, Socio Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP), has condemned the purported plan by President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to prosecute Nigerians who are still using Twitter through Virtual Private Network after it was banned in the country.

Elombahnews had reported on Friday that the Nigerian Government, through the Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Lai Mohammad announced the suspension of Twitter from operating in the country.

The suspension was indefinite as the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that Nigerians were using Twitter to mastermind activities that are unhealthy to the corporate existence of Nigeria.

However, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has ordered the immediate prosecution of Nigerians still accessing the microblogging platform, Twitter, through a virtual private network (VPN).

Malami gave the directive in a statement issued by his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, on Saturday.

Reacting to this latest move, Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project in a statement said no one should ever be criminalize for exercising their fundamental human rights.

The rights group said there is no law in Nigeria that would allow the prosecution of anyone simply for using Twitter in Nigeria.

The constitutional right to no punishment without law is absolute. This means that it cannot be restricted in any way. Arresting and misusing the criminal justice system to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter in Nigeria [on the basis of a public statement by the Federal Government] would amout to a crime against humanity, SERAP said.

The statement read in part, “We condemn reports that the Federal Government would prosecute Nigerians for using Twitter in Nigeria.

“No one should ever be criminalised simply for peacefully exercising their rights.

“There is NO law in Nigeria today that would allow the prosecution of anyone simply for using Twitter in Nigeria.

“The constitutional right to no punishment without law is absolute. This means that it cannot be restricted in any way.

“Arresting and misusing the criminal justice system to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter in Nigeria [on the basis of a public statement by the Federal Government] would amout to a crime against humanity

“We will provide free legal support to anyone targeted for exercising their rights.

“Anyone harassed, intimidated and facing criminal prosecution simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression should please feel free to call our toll-free hotline 0800-CALLSERAP (0800-2255-73727); +234-816-053-7202 for absolutely free legal advice and support.

“People should also feel free to send us email: info@serap-nigeria.org”

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