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By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The National Association of Seadogs, NAS, yesterday took a swipe at the Federal Government over its suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform, Twitter.

NAS also known as Pyrates Confraternity in a statement issued by its President, Abiola Owoaje called on the government to rescind its step and abandon this futile and anti-democratic repression of dissent.

The association also warned against any moves to gag Nigerians through the regulation of social media platforms by the National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC.

NAS in the statement titled “Twitter’s Suspension: The slide into tyranny” said it was appalled by the action of the Federal Government.

Condemning the action of government in its entirety Owoaje accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of attempting to suppress free speech, stifling the Nigerian civic space and trampling on the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

The association also dismissed the reasons given for the suspension, stressing that the Nigerian government should have taken up any issue it has with Twitter directly rather than “drag the whole country into this personal vendetta like human shields.”

NAS further said, the “suspension illustrates a habitual arrogance of power and misconception of the apparatus of the state as unanswerable tools for the promotion of personal agenda and private endeavours.

“It is rather saddening that the Nigerian Government took this unconstitutional and thoughtless action without considering its adverse effect on the image of the country and the destructive implications for the ease of doing business, and, government’s continued abysmal disrespect for freedom of speech, due process, free enterprise and economic development.

“This knee-jerk reaction by the government is a futile effort to suppress the debates that are necessary to interrogate our common existence as a nation, and a failure to accept that disagreements about the substance and process of that engagement, including criticism of the President’s recent inelegant and unhelpful contribution, are a necessary part of building a democratic culture.

“Patriotism does not imply a requirement to supine obedience and servitude. Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy and any action that is inconsistent with democratic norms and principles would be resisted through legitimate actions.

“The Nigerian government should immediately rescind its retrogressive step and abandon this futile and anti-democratic repression of dissent, including moves to gag Nigerians through the regulation of social media platforms by the NBC.”

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