Despite declaring the suspension of Twitter’s activities in the country, Abubakar Malami points out that individuals still accessing the social media platform.
In a counter-affidavit submitted in response to an originating petition filed by human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong, who is suing the government over the constitutionality of imposing a Twitter suspension in Nigeria, Nigeria’s attorney-general, Abubakar Malami, made the claim.
According to The Guardian, the government argued in an affidavit deposed by one Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the government that the suspension of Twitter was not an affront to human rights because Nigerians continued to use Twitter despite the suspension.
Many Nigerians are circumventing the suspension order by using virtual private networks after telecommunications companies and internet service providers blocked access to the social media platform.
“The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria,” the lawyer to the government said.
“Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.
“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never prevented the applicant (Effiong) and the class of people he aspires to represent from expressing their ideas and offering criticism when necessary.”
Millions of people have been prohibited from accessing the site since the ban went into force on Saturday. While many young Nigerians are getting around the ban by using virtual private networks (VPNs), Malami has vowed to prosecute Twitter users, claiming that their acts are in violation of the prohibition.
Effiong, on the other hand, is seeking nine reliefs, including a permanent injunction prohibiting the respondents from further suspending, deactivating, or blocking the operation and accessibility of Twitter or any other social media site in Nigeria, which he claims violates his rights.
The lawyer sought the court to rule that Malami’s threat of criminal punishment against Nigerians who breach Twitter’s suspension or ban is unconstitutional.
The Nigerian government ordered all radio and television stations to “de-install” their Twitter accounts and prohibited them from using anything from the platform as comments during their programs just days after the Twitter ban.
Major Nigerian stations have now cooperated with the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) decision, which might result in the suspension of their broadcasting licenses.
In July, the government announced the formation of a delegation of ministers to negotiate with Twitter, whose services are still unavailable to Nigerians on all local internet networks.