The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good offices and leadership position to order Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to provide a copy of the agreement recently signed with Twitter Inc. and to widely publicize the details of the agreement.
The group also requested him to order Lai Mohammed to clarify how the Twitter agreement will be implemented, particularly if it includes human rights protections, compliance with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), and international duties.
“Publishing the agreement would enable Nigerians to scrutinize it, seek legal remedies as appropriate, and ensure that the conditions for lifting the suspension are not used as pretexts to suppress legitimate discourse,” the organization wrote in a letter dated January 15, 2022, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
“Publication of the Twitter agreement will also promote transparency and accountability, as well as help to mitigate threats to Nigerians’ online rights, as well as any interference with online privacy in ways that discourage the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression.”
Nigerians have the right to exercise constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights including as freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, peaceful assembly and association, and public engagement, both offline and online, according to the organization.
SERAP stressed that any agreement with social media companies must meet constitutional and international requirements, including legality, necessity, proportionality, and legitimacy, in a letter copied to Lai Mohammed and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
It said: “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.
“The government has a duty to demonstrate that the conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter would not threaten or violate the enjoyment of Nigerians’ human rights online, and that the conditions are in pursuit of a legitimate goal in a democratic society.”