The Government’s Twitter Ban And the Misinformation of Daniel Bwala

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By John Okopi Alu

I watched with keen interest a few days ago, the Channels TV program, Politics Today hosted by Seun Okinbaloye in which Daniel Bwala featured as a guest where his views sought to justify the recent Twitter ban declared by Muhammadu Buhari’s Government. In his views expressed on the program, he claimed amongst others that twitter’s attention was drawn to multiple tweets that were capable of destroying the country because they were inciting violence and that twitter responded by saying that they had reviewed the tweets and the tweets did not violate their rules. Because of the traction his views have garnered since the program was aired, I have felt inclined to do a rejoinder so as to straighten the facts with the hope of balancing the views. While I do not claim or pretend to hold brief for Twitter, I think it must be pointed out that majority of us who have kicked against the action of the Government’s ban on Twitter do not necessarily have a problem with the Government of the day banning Twitter if its reasons were not personally inclined but related to grave issues of security of state.  It should be emphasized that the Twitter handle @Mbuhari is a personal twitter account like any of us who owns a Twitter account. It is not the official Twitter account of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria akin to the President of the United States of America (@POTUS) which has a recognized twitter account exclusively for the use of the United States President. However, because the said Twitter handle @Mbuhari is a personal account and the ban on Twitter’s operation in Nigeria arose after the deletion of the tweet from that account, therein lies some of the angst against the action of the government of the day banning the services of Twitter within Nigeria. Indeed, it smacks of highhandedness and tantrum throwing since the ban was not done before the deletion of the tweet of the personal account of the President but after the deletion.

 

It appears that this government has a problem with communicating with its people and Bwala who is a known APC stalwart cannot but of course, be sympathetic to the Government of the day who is his paymaster.  His loyalty, refutably, lies with the government of the day on this matter, so some of us are not the least surprised by his views aired on that program and I would tell you why. When Lai Mohammed who is the official spokesman of the government of the day announced the ban on twitter, he never alluded to the facts which Bwala has labored to bring to the fore at this late hour that the Nigerian government had previously asked Twitter to take down inciting tweets and Twitter refused to do so. For some of us, these facts are just being cooked up to whip up sentiments to justify the ban because if that were the case, why didn’t the government act at the time to ban the services of Twitter but waited until the President’s personal tweets were deleted?

 

Besides, is Bwala the official spokesperson of the Nigerian Government? Bwala indeed remains unqualified to give us this information as he lacks the locus to hold the brief of the Government when the Presidency has its spokesperson and the government also has its spokesman. Accordingly, until his facts are substantiated or corroborated with credible and verifiable evidence, some of us would consider his tales that the Government of the day had drawn the attention of Twitter to take down inciting tweets as claptrap of the highest quality and that is just to put it mildly.

 

With that said, it is important to understand that this ban infringes on Nigerians right in two fold, of which the citizenry reserves the right to challenge the action of the government before a court of competent jurisdiction; one is the right to express your opinion and the other is the right to liberty to choose what medium a citizen would want to use to express him or herself.

It is becoming increasingly apparent every day, that the persons who occupy the positions of leadership in our country are self-serving. They know the problems bedeviling our Country and they know the solutions but are reluctant or unwillingly to act unless it has a direct bearing on their interest. They generally do not care about the citizenry. They only care about their interest and in this instance, the President’s hurt pride. That the parents of the Greenfield University abductees had to pay #180M ransom to save their wards is the biggest indication of that. No security from anywhere interfaced with the parents or attempted to locate and neutralize the bandits.


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Finally, it is important to emphasize that Twitter is not responsible for the harvest of deaths and orgy of killings as well as mass kidnaps being witnessed every day in Nigeria for the better part of the last 3 years for which the Government of the day has been unable to stem. I believe that it is important for us to put this in its proper perspective so we are not carried away when tales like Bwala has sought to put out there, is been bandied about to confound and confuse the citizenry.

John Okopi Alu, Esq.  is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.


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