BY KAZIE UKO
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday logged into Twitter and deactivated his account, ostensibly in line with Nigerian government’s decision suspending the social media platform last Friday.
But Malami’s action, however, came days after the chief law officer of the nation had criminalised continued usage of Twitter by Nigerians from within the country.
RELIABLESOURCENG.COM had reported Monday that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF Malami and several other government appointees, ministries and agencies of government were yet to deactivate their Twitter handles, despite the threat of prosecution against Nigerian tweeps.
The minister, in a statement on Saturday by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, ordered the prosecution of “violators” of the suspension of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
He directed the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Commission (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of the “offenders without any further delay”.
A statement by the Attorney General’s office read: “Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has directed for immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
“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 swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“Malami directed the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Commission (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”
It is not clear how Malami got into his account since the Twitter URL had been suspended by all Internet Service Providers in the country.
Many Nigerians have defied the federal government order to deactivate their accounts, with the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, describing tweeting as everyone’s right to freedom of expression.
To press home his point, Adeboye, on Monday, via his verified Twitter handle, @PastorEAAdeboye, tweeted: “The Redeemed Christian Church of God is domiciled in more than 170 nations and territories. The tweets here are in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations universal declaration of human rights.”
Following the federal government order banning Twitter, Nigerian tweeps rushed to download the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to continue to access Twitter. No Nigerian law makes it illegal to tweet.
The AGF took to his Facebook page on Tuesday, posting an image and a caption which read, “My Twitter account deactivated”.
Expectedly, reactions to the minister’s post were full of ridicule and harsh criticisms for him and the federal government, led by President Buhari.