• Stop ‘monitoring Nigerians’ on social media, SERAP tells Buhari
From Joe Effiong, Uyo
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, has dismissed insinuations that the Federal Government’s anti-hate message moves were prelude to the reintroduction of the dreaded Decree 4.
Enang, who said this while interacting with journalists in his country home in Uyo at the weekend, said the statement on hate message by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, was a reinstatement of the position of the law as enshrined in the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)code.
Some Nigerians saw the minister’s directive on “hate massages” aired by broadcast stations as indirect way of bringing back the obnoxious Decree 4, which was used by President Muhammadu Buhari in his days as military Head of State to gag the freedom of the press.
“There is no new law. What the Minister of Information simply did was reinstating the position and content of National Broadcasting Commission as contained in the code; he is not making any new law.
“If any new law is to be made, it has to be submitted to the national assembly and such will be passed by the national assembly and will be submitted to Mr. President for assent, no such law has been made.”
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to instruct the military authorities to immediately end any monitoring of activities of Nigerians on the social media.
The group also urged the president to ensure that military operations comply with Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and the country’s obligations under international human rights law.”
In the letter dated August 25, 2017, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the growp expressed “serious concern that any monitoring of Nigerians on social media by the military authorities would directly violate the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and privacy online.”
SERAP said: “Monitoring of the social media by the military is neither necessary nor proportionate, and could portray your government as working to control the political and social media space. Classifying legitimate exercise of freedom of expression as ‘hate speech’ is counter-productive. In exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and privacy, Nigerians should be allowed to speak truth to power and stand up for their rights.”