Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Is Unconstitutional. Here’s Why

June 5, 2021

On June 4, 2021, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced through a Twitter thread that it had indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria. The suspension came after Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, “announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

The censorship of Twitter by the Nigerian government has been termed by many as a blatant disregard of the constitutional provision of Fundamental Human Rights for Nigerians, an autocratic action in a democratic government, and something to be deeply worried about.

Here’s why:

The provision for the Fundamental Human Rights for Nigerians can be found in Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution. Section 39, under this chapter, details our right to freedom of expression and the press, and Section 40, our right to peaceful assembly and association.

Freedom of expression means that every Nigerian is “entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.” By using Twitter to express our opinions, we are expressing our freedom of expression. No government should take that away from its citizens.

Section 40 states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons.” Nigerians socially gather on Twitter. Technology means that peaceful assembly and association don’t have to be physical. Nigerians are expressing their right to peaceful assembly by using Twitter. No government should take that away from its citizens.

“But what happens when these rights are misused by the citizens?”

There are cases where the government, in the best interest of the citizens and the country, temporarily override the fundamental human rights of the citizens.

Here’s an example: Section 41 of the constitution provides Nigerians with the right to freedom of movement. Last year, there were a series of government imposed lockdowns because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Another example is the death penalty: We have the right to life, but if we decide to kill, then there’s a sentence, which takes away our own right to life.

Does this mean that the government can decide to negate our rights whenever they want? The answer is no. Why?

Section 45: Restriction on and derogation from fundamental human rights.

Section 45 of the constitution states that our fundamental human rights are no longer “valid” if they’re against

  1. “The interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
  2. The rights and freedom or other persons.”

In these situations, there are due processes to follow, based on the principle of checks and balances between the arms of government. Derogations go through due processes, such as judicial checks and court approvals.

So even if the Nigerian government wanted to infringe on our rights to expression, and peaceful assembly, by stating that our use of Twitter goes against public safety, public order, public morality, public health, or rights and freedom or other persons, they had to go through the judiciary – who are on a strike – and not just through the words of minister Lai Mohammed.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

May 13, 2019

You ever hear some of the things perpetuated by Nigerian leaders and think: “Well, you must have been a fun head prefect to cross?” A Nigerian leader currently re-kindling adolescent nightmares and topping 2019’s “Most Arbitrary Use of Power list” is no other than the-one-who’s-agbada-must-not be-shaken, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Through truly interesting cartwheels of the […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

June 13, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to […]

June 13, 2021

June 12 Protest: Yesterday, after months of planning, Nigerians took to the streets to protest against bad governance, abuse of human rights, worsening insecurity, and other forms of maladministration and mishandling of democracy in the country. Coincidentally, this protest happened one week after the Nigerian government’s sudden and unconstitutional Twitter ban. Yesterday was also Nigeria’s […]

June 12, 2021

Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians. The subject of today’s Sex Life is a heterosexual 25-year-old man who became obsessed with penises when he realised his penis was small. He talks about how having a small penis affects his […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

More from Citizen

June 13, 2021

June 12 Protest: Yesterday, after months of planning, Nigerians took to the streets to protest against bad governance, abuse of human rights, worsening insecurity, and other forms of maladministration and mishandling of democracy in the country. Coincidentally, this protest happened one week after the Nigerian government’s sudden and unconstitutional Twitter ban. Yesterday was also Nigeria’s […]

June 12, 2021

By Doyin Olagunju If you were on social media on 27th May 2021, you must have seen a viral video involving Remi Tinubu, a former first lady of Lagos State and a current senator representing Lagos Central senatorial district, in a heated argument with another woman over the fact that Ms Tinubu called the woman […]

June 8, 2021

It’s been more than 72 hours since the federal government ordered the Twitter Ban, a decision that has denied millions of Nigerians without “You-Know-What” access to the social media platform. The question on everyone’s mind is “how much longer will this ill-thought-out and  extralegal decision hold?” The answer remains to be seen.  However, the Nigerian […]

June 7, 2021

Twitter Ban: The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, in a statement issued today has ordered all Nigerian broadcasting stations to delete their Twitter accounts. The letter to the broadcasting organisations terms it as “unpatriotic” for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to use Twitter as a source of information gathering and dissemination in Nigeria. Different variations of […]

June 5, 2021

The Nigerian government’s decision to suspend popular social media platform ban will hit Nigeria’s teeming youth population, for whom Twitter has become a source of escape from the hard-hitting Nigerian situation. Many use the platform to find job opportunities, companionship and networking. It will also prove to be disastrous for small and medium scale businesses […]

June 5, 2021

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has directed that people violating the Twitter ban should immediately be prosecuted. Yesterday, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced through a Twitter thread that it had indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria. The suspension came after Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, […]

June 5, 2021

On June 4, 2021, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced through a Twitter thread that it had indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria. The suspension came after Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, “announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X