Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that Nigeria as a sovereign country will not be ruled by the policies or laws of a multinational corporation, no matter “how powerful” it may be.
He was apparently reacting to a ruling on Tuesday by the court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) restraining the Nigerian government from prosecuting Twitter users in the country.
The court held that “any interference with Twitter is viewed as interference with human rights, and that will violate human rights.”
The minister spoke at an interactive session with members of the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Information, ICT and Justice, probing the circumstances around the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria over national security.
He denied that Twitter was suspended because it deleted Buhari’s tweet.
“The only reason we suspended the operation of Twitter is because it was promoting disunity in Nigeria and it became a national security risk,” he stated.
The minister also said, “Who is Twitter? We are talking about a sovereign country. Nigeria will not be ruled by the laws of a multinational no matter how powerful it is.
“So, for us, why did we act now? There is no time we took the decision that we will not have the kind of reaction we have now. But it has gone to a stage after persistent appeal to Twitter, and we saw how policemen and soldiers were being killed, and we said enough is enough.
“We owe no responsibility to Twitter. It’s not registered in Nigeria. It does not employ any Nigerian or pay taxes. There are other platforms available to Nigerians to make money.
“In the press release, we also said henceforth, all OTT must register first as Nigerian companies and be licensed by the Broadcasting Commission before they can carry out business as social media platforms.
“We realised that many of the OTT social media platforms operating in Nigeria today are not registered in Nigeria. They make billions of naira out of our country. They pay no taxes. They employed nobody.
“That’s why we said we are going to suspend Twitter and at the same time all other social media platforms that are not registered in Nigeria must register.
“I know it’s true that many Nigerians have accused the FG of an attempt to stifle media and free speech and we say no at all.
“There is absolutely no intention on the part of government to stifle free speech or the media because as you will see, while it is true that Sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the constitution actually provide for freedom of speech, it is actually qualified by Section 45 of the same constitution.”
The ECOWAS court ruling followed the suit filed against the government by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians arguing that “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.”
The court gave the order after hearing arguments from Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, and lawyer to the government Maimuna Shiru.
The FG in early June indefinitely suspended Twitter, two days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists, which Twitter said violated its rules.
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami, further said those who defied the ban should be prosecuted, but did not provide any details as to which law would be invoked.
In response, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a local rights group, along with 176 other Nigerians, went to court to fight the ban.
On Tuesday, a statement describing the decision to suspend the hugely popular social media platform’s operations as an attempt to silence criticism of the government from SERAP quoted the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as saying it was restraining the government from acting against citizens or media outlets over the use of Twitter, pending a substantive ruling on the core issue.
“The court has listened very well to the objection,” SERAP said.
The lawsuit’s applicants had argued that the Twitter suspension “escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country”.
Applicants also urged the court to hold the Nigerian government liable for the violation of “their fundamental human right and for breaching its international obligations” by banning Twitter.
The government’s move prompted an immediate backlash among social media users and human rights activists, with #NigeriaTwitterBan and #KeepitOn trending on the platform as Nigerians used virtual private networks to access the site.
Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria had the duty of protecting national security, and warned that Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms would be suspended should they go against Nigeria’s interest.
We’ll not ban Almajiri qur’anic education, but reform it — Gov. Tambuwal
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has said the state government was targeting the remodelling of the Qur’anic education system and not banning it.
Tambuwal stated this on Saturday at the closing of a two-day workshop for the adaptation of the Indonesian Pondok system into the Almajiri-Islamiyya educational system in the state.
He expressed government’s determination to ensure that the initiative was implemented to the letter, stressing that any recognisable success of the system would upgrade and improve the state’s educational system.
He said: “We are not aiming to ban the Almajiri qur’anic education system as some people have urged the Sokoto State Government to emulate other states.
“We are striving to provide reasonable solutions to the challenges and with the present initiative the time has come.”
Tambuwal assured of full implementation of the suggestions made by resource persons and the design of a programme that would surely be a solution to the educational challenges, especially bridging the gap of out of school children.
In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, urged the Federal Government and its agencies, including the Universal Basic Education Commission, to consider making financial provisions to the Almajiri qur’anic educational system.
Abubakar noted that when the implementation of the initiative begins, the out of school children figure will drop as well as curtail those roaming the streets.
The Sultan urged others states to emulate Sokoto state on the initiative, in recognition of its importance and suitability to Nigerian’s system of education.
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Social Investment Programmes, Maryam Uwais, expressed delight at the initiative as it was in line with the President’s efforts at reducing poverty and empowering Nigerians.
Uwais said: “The huge numbers of marginalised youths and children, who have no education, school dropouts who have no skills, have contributed to the dismal outcomes of security challenges.
“The challenges also include females who faced incidence of gender based violence, along with cases of early marriages arising from lack of education, which leads to diminished opportunities.”
She noted that the Pandok system focuses on character development and addressing socioeconomic challenges that children faced, as well as improving educational levels which were all aligned with Sustainable Development Goals.
Uwais added that her office was working towards empowering between 30 to 50 youths in all the local government councils, to supervise and monitor others on valuable skills to be acquired, through various initiatives.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Alhaji Umar Altine, said based on the study conducted, the Pandok system of education in Indonesia were owned and managed by individuals or communities, regulated and assisted by the federal ministry of religious affairs.
Altine said the major sources of sustainability were Endowments (Waqf) and Alumni, noting that based on advocacy and sensitisation by the board, six Qur’anic schools had adopted the model.
In her presentation, UNICEF Education Specialist, Sokoto Field Office, Dr. Safiyya Tahir, said that no fewer than 1.2 million children were out of school in Sokoto State, noting that early children development centres were mostly owned by private schools, with only a small percentage owned by public schools.
Tahir said the Pandok system would be relevant to the culture of Sokoto people because they shared similarities with the Indonesians as many families prepared their children for enrolment in religious schools in early life.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that several resource persons made presentations at the occasion, including Dr. Bala Muhammad of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano, and Prof. Abdullahi Sule-Kano of the Political Science Department, BUK.
Others were: Prof. Maryam Koko of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto; Prof. Suleiman Khalil, Sociology Department in UDUS; Prof. Bashir Galadanci; and Prof. Muhammad Junaid.
The Eagle Online
Resident Doctors Vote to Continue Indefinite Strike
Striking resident doctors in the country have resolved to sustain their ongoing industrial action until their demands are met by the federal government.
The strike by members of the National Association Resident Doctors (NARD) has entered its seventh week, with their parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), also threatening to embark on solidarity strike if the dispute is not resolved by next weekend.
The resident doctors are demanding payment of arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform as well as approval of new hazard allowance for the health sector, among other demands.
Rising from its Annual General Meeting (AGM) that ended yesterday at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi State, NARD said that it had unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action.
A new national leadership also emerged at the meeting with Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya as the new president of NARD.
NARD said that: “After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike as stated above, the AGM unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action until our minimum demands are met”.
In a communiqué jointly signed by NARD President, Dr. Dare Godiya Ishaya; Secretary General, Dr. Suleiman Abiodun Ismai; and National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alfa Yusuf, the doctors said that federal government should ensure that their demands are urgently met before normalcy would return to the health sector
The resident doctors said they are demanding the payment of the Medical Residency Training allowance within 72 hours since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed.
They also demanded payment of the arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues.
Other demands of the Resident doctors include: “Withdrawal of the case against us in court in the interest of peace; and payment of our withheld August and September salaries”.
NARD said that federal government should prevail on various state governments to urgently “pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed our members in the state tertiary health institutions as stated above”.
In the communiqué, NARD said they were committed to the smooth running of the health sector, but can only do so when their welfare is given the desired attention.
“We, therefore, call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to set aside all technicalities as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and resolve the aforementioned demands in the interest of the masses and our members who are currently suffering because of the ongoing strike action,” it said.
Earlier during the AGM, the doctors bemoaned the delay in payment of death-in-service insurance benefit to the next-of-kin of the fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country.
They expressed concerns over the conditions of their members under different state governments’ employs, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo states, where their members are being owed 20 months, six months, four months and four months’ salary arrears, respectively.
They meeting also observed with serious concerns the poor response of most state governments in domesticating the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 while commending states like Delta and Benue for adopting the law.
In particular, NARD expressed appreciation to the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who has paid its members the 2021 MRTF during the ongoing strike.
The meeting lamented the acute manpower shortage in most tertiary health institutions and the attendant burnout effects on its members.
The communiqué said that NARD observed with serious concerns that despite several meetings with the presidential committee on salaries and other top government stakeholders on the review of hazard allowance for health workers, the hazard allowance still remains a paltry N5,000.
It also noted the non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to some of the members in federal and most of its members in state tertiary institutions.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Thisday News
BREAKING: IPOB orders sit-at-home on October 1, removal of all Nigerian flags from southeast
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has declared a sit-at-home across the Southeast on October 1.
IPOB said the October 1 sit-at-home is to show its rejection of Nigeria and all the country stands for.
In a statement by its spokesman on Saturday, Emma Powerful, the group also declared the commencement of “operation no Nigerian flag begins in Biafra land from October 1st.”
Powerful said the sit-at-home order was declared to celebrate Ambazonia Independence Anniversary.
The statement reads partly: “IPOB has declared 1st of October 2021 total shutdown in Biafra land as a sign of our rejection of the evil construct called Nigeria and there shall be no movement in Biafra land on this day.
“Also, IPOB has declared from today 25th September 2021 that all Nigerian flag mounted anywhere in Biafra land must be brought down, Banks exceptional, IPOB leadership will communicate to Banks directly and give them reason they must peacefully bring down Nigeria flag in their banking premises before we do it ourselves in our own way.
“Every body must strictly adhere to this directives from IPOB leadership, we want to let the world know you that Biafraland is not Nigeria and shall not be. Don’t say I don’t know, a word is enough for the wise.”
Seun Opejobi, Daily Post
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