Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the publication of Nigeria’s agreement with Twitter.
The federal government lifted the ban on January 12, 2022, seven months after the sanction took effect following the deletion of Buhari’s tweet.
SERAP urged the President to direct the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed to widely publish the details of the agreement.
A letter dated January 15, signed by Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said this would ensure that the conditions are not used as pretexts to suppress legitimate discourse.
SERAP stressed the importance of promoting transparency, accountability, and helping to mitigate threats to Nigerians’ rights online, as well as any interference with online privacy in ways that deter freedom and expression.
The memo read in part: “Any agreement with social media companies must meet constitutional and international requirements, including legality, necessity, proportionality and legitimacy.
“This means that any conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter must meet the requirements of regular legal processes and limit government discretion. Secretly agreed conditions will fail these fundamental requirements.”
It reminded the authorities of their duty to demonstrate that the conditions do not threaten or violate Nigerians rights and that they are in pursuit of a legitimate goal in a democratic society.
The body observed that ìn lifting the ban, the government used overly broad terms and phrases like ‘prohibited publication’, ‘Nigerian laws’, ‘national culture and history’.
SERAP noted that the “open-ended terms and phrases” may be used to suppress the legitimate exercise of human rights online.
“Any agreement with social media companies must not be used as a ploy to tighten government control over access to the internet, monitor internet activity, or to increase online censorship.”
The rights group told the Buhari administration to respect Section 39 of the Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.