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We banned Twitter in the interest of Nigeria, Lai M’med tells House of Reps

………..Says FG action was legitimate

……..Twitter had no corporate identity in Nigeria

The Federal Government has said that its decision to suspend the activities of Twitter is well-founded in law and it has not breached the citizens’ rights by so doing.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made this known in a presentation to the House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

A copy of the paper presented to the Committee by the minister at the National Assembly on Tuesday was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria.

In the presentation, the minister contended that Twitter activity in the country is in violation of public interest and negate some provisions of the Terrorism Act as well as the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

The minister said the Twitter suspension is in line with national and international laws which give Nigeria the power to regulate its cyberspace and give all necessary orders designating any computer system, network or application as forming part of its national infrastructure.

Mohammed, a lawyer, contended the freedom of expression guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution is not absolute.

He explained that Section 49 of the same Constitution permits restrictions of civil liberties in the public interest stressing, “public Interest takes precedent over individual interest’’.

“The operations of Twitter in the Nigerian social space is not legally permissible when it is used in the airing of information that endangers the life and security of the majority of citizens of Nigeria.

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“This is in light of the fact that the platform affords IPOB, an organization already proscribed by the Federal High Court, to champion its seditious and terrorist based activities

“The principles of law are clear on the exercise of personal human rights in the face of national security threats which affects the larger citizen,’’ he said.

The minister also argued that the federal government is empowered to take all reasonable steps to defend its cyberspace where it perceives or finds that a Cyber-crime, is threatened to be committed or has been committed.

He said both national and international statutes empower the federal government to regulate and promote the security of Nigerian cyberspace, including but not limited to organization and user’s assets.

“Organization and user’s assets include connected computing devices, personnel, infrastructure, applications, services and telecommunications systems.

“It also included the totality of transmitted and/or stored information within the Nigerian cyber-Space/environment including social media such as Twitter, Facebook…, applications, internet platforms, and cloud computing platforms,’’ he said.

Mohammed stressed that where a seditious act has been committed against the Federal Government through the Cyber Space the perpetrators shall be liable.

The minister noted that the rights to freedom of expression on the Twitter platform is qualified by the provisions of sections 5(1) and (2) of the Terrorism Act of 2011.

He said the sections provide that any person who directly or indirectly solicits or render support for the commission of an act of terrorism commits an offence liable on conviction to not less than 20 years.

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“This includes incitement to commit a terrorist act through the internet or any electronic means or the use of printed materials or the dissemination of terrorist information”.

Mohammed said the operation of Twitter as a business entity in Nigeria without fulfilling the conditions precedent by registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission is illegal.

He said CAMA, the primary law governing businesses in Nigeria provides that a foreign company must take necessary steps to obtain incorporation as a separate entity before engaging in any business.

“Until so incorporated, the foreign company shall not carry on business in Nigeria.

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