The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared on Saturday evening that the Federal Government’s directive to its agencies to arrest and prosecute any Nigerian using Twitter is unconstitutional, illegal, and of no effect.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had earlier on Saturday directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (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 any Nigerian violating the government’s ban on Twitter in the country.
PDP, which reacted to the directive in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the order as frenzied desperation by the federal government to muzzle, victimize, clamp down on innocent Nigerians and foist a totalitarian system on our country.”
The statement read: “The PDP states that nothing in our extant laws, not even the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, constitutionally criminalized the use of Twitter by Nigerians or empowers the federal governments to arrest and prosecute any Nigerians for using Twitter.
“For Malami’s information, Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that ‘a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty, therefore, is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a law of a state, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of the law.
“President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC are informed that there is no extant law that defined the use of Twitter as a criminal offence and there is no penalty prescribed in a written law for the use of Twitter by any Nigerian.
“Moreover, they should also realize that the suspension of Twitter by the APC-led federal government, in addition to its unconstitutionality, only suspended Twitter operations and not the use of Twitter by Nigerians.
“The directive by the Attorney General to arrest and prosecute any Nigerians found using Twitter, does not have the backing of any law enacted by the National Assembly or any state legislative house, and as such, Malami’s declaration is completely of no legal consequence.
“Malami’s directive to arrest and prosecute Nigerians using Twitter is therefore an attempt to suspend the 1999 Constitution (as amended), a development which bears the imprints of the leaked memo in which Mr. President was reportedly advised to suspend the constitution and strip Nigerians of their rights and freedom.
“The PDP again cautions the Buhari Presidency and the APC to end their acts of suppression against Nigerians as such amounts to pushing the people to the wall.”
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