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Confusion as Malami orders prosecution of Twitter ban violators

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has directed immediate prosecution of offenders of the federal government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.

On Friday, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, announced an indefinite suspension of Twitter operations in the country.

The announcement came after the platform yanked off a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari on civil war.

To circumvent the ban, many Nigerians had opted for the Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

But on Saturday, Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to commence in earnest the process of prosecuting violators of the de-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

In a statement by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, “Malami directed the DPPF to liase with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”

But as a source noted, there is confusion on the mode of investigation of violators, the courts to try them and the implications of the new order on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.

According to the source, “It is not yet clear if the violators would be prosecuted in the conventional courts who are currently on strike or a special court could be created as a Special Purpose Vehicle specifically for this.

“In addition, it is not yet clear who the violators would be. Would they be individual Nigerians using Virtual Provider Networks (VPNs) to access Twitter or any of the networks? Again, under which law are the violators going to be prosecuted.

“How would the violators be singled out? Is this the era of the Police State in which the Police or any of the security agencies would stop you on the road and search your phone or your laptop, tablet or invade offices to see if you are using Twitter.

“Or would the government and its agencies use electronic eavesdropping or surveillance equipment to find out those using Twitter. Whatever is the case, Nigerians should brace for a full scale dictatorship brewing in which human rights are secondary issues. Maybe, this is precursor for the State of Emergency.”

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