say issue affects all Nigerians; can’t be allowed to stand
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
The ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria is sure to take the front burner in the proceedings of the House of Representatives as it resumes plenary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, some lawmakers revealed, Sunday.
The lawmakers said that the issue was too important to be ignored as it roundly affects the socio-economic and political lives of all Nigerians.
It will be recalled that the House has been engrossed with the Zonal public hearing on the constitution review, a development that has kept the lawmakers away from the chambers for some time now.
However, it is due for resumption of plenary in 48 hours.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard on Sunday, some members of the House favored a robust debate on the ban.
Already, the minority caucus of the House led by its leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu has condemned the suspension of the microblogging platform.
Similarly, the major opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, caucus in the House led by Hon. Kingsley Chinda has also threatened legal action against the federal government if it did not rescind its decision.
In his reaction, the member representing
Ileoluji-Okeigbo/Odigbo federal constituency of Ondo State, Hon.
Hon. Mayowa Akinfolarin said as the representatives of the people, it behoves the House to discuss the vexing issue.
He said: “In the House of Representatives or the national assembly, people are elected to react to the happenings around them either within or outside their Constituencies.
“In the country as a whole, this is a topic that affects both the rich and the poor, the young and old. It is a critical issue that affects the economic development of the nation.
“So, if such decisions are being taken, there are bounds to be reactions from the elected representatives, the masses or Nigerians as a whole because the issue will affect all Nigerians in all ramifications. Yes, people are doing business through Twitter. Many means of livelihoods are through Twitter.
“So, for anybody under any guise to say we are banning it, it’s like banning the lives of the people, saying they should not live again. So, it is not an issue that will be swept under the carpet. There will reactions and counter-reactions.”
Similarly, the leader of the PDP caucus and member representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Hon. Kingsley Chinda while speaking to Vanguard assured Nigerians of motions on the matter.
“Whether a debate will be taken by the Leadership, I do not speak for the leadership but Nigerians should be assured that there will be motions on the matter, it is for the Leadership to take or not take any one of them”, he said.
The lawmaker added that “One thing stands out clearly: the govt is sinking and clinching on anything, even a straw in an attempt to stay afloat.”
On his own part, the member representing Gwer East/Gwer West federal constituency of Benue State, Hon. Mark Gbillah said that the opposition may be forced to interrupt the proceedings of the House should the leadership sidestep the ban at plenary.
He said: “I will speak for myself, we will have to ensure that the proceedings of the House for that day are jettisoned if that kind of attempt is brought up again, either by the speaker or the deputy speaker. if our privilege is breached, which is enshrined in our laws, we will no longer lay low. If that is done, we will have to interrupt the proceedings of the House for the whole world to see that our hallowed chamber has become a partisan chamber, instead of the representative assembly that Nigerians expect.
“These are the actions I am willing to take, I am imploring my colleagues to toll the same line. The opposition will have to take a stand to ensure that the proceedings of the house do not go on if this issue is not tackled.
“Staging a walkout, in my own opinion, is not enough. We have had a situation where hoodlums came and removed the mace in the upper legislative chamber, yet there is no consequence for this erosion of our democratic institution. It is time to rise to our responsibilities as those who represent the people.
“The president has failed to make comments on killer herdsmen, aside from periodic statements by Garba Shehu, where he goes about insulting people, including my Governor, Samuel Ortom. I am not sure that Mr President has made any comment about 100 people killed along the Benue/Ebonyi border.”
Gbillah also dismissed the directive by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to prosecute Nigerians who may circumvent the ban to use Twitter via alternative sources.
The lawmaker said there was no law backing up the directive.
“I want to ask him, prosecution under what law. He should tell Nigerians under what law they will be prosecuted. To be prosecuted by fiat by the executive. An unconstitutional fiat. This is how the attorney general keeps displaying questionable conduct as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“He should show us what law he is banking on to prosecute Nigerians who are within their rights. The president is not being advised properly by the attorney general”, Gbillah said.