Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has blasted President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of Twitter, saying it would be hypocritical of the Federal Government to celebrate 12 June as Democracy Day in the light of current circumstances.
Adegboruwa said this in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday while reacting to the Twitter ban and the planned celebration by the Federal Government for Democracy Day.
The Federal Government announced the suspension of Twitter on Friday, two days after the microblogging site deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari after it was deemed to have “violated the Twitter rules”.
According to a statement by Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture on Friday, the ban was placed on Twitter due to the “persistent use” of the platform in purportedly encouraging activities that “undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
But Adegboruwa argued that the Buhari administration cannot celebrate the ideals of the June 12 mandate when it violates the freedom of expression by Nigerians with the ban on Twitter.
The senior lawyer, therefore, called on all Nigerians, especially activists, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and all lovers of democracy, not to participate in any programme or event that may be organised by the Buhari administration in celebration of Democracy Day.
The statement read: “It will be hypocritical of the government to claim to celebrate the ideals of the June 12 mandate, when the same government is in gross violation of the freedom of expression by people it claims to govern, through its illegal ban of Twitter and the unwarranted censorship of all media organisations. June 12 represents total freedom, the free expression of the will of the people, justice, equality and respect for human rights.
“The decision of the government to suspend the operations of Twitter and to force media organisations to comply therewith, are contrary to the spirit of June 12.
“As a mark of protest in rejecting the suspension, all Nigerians of good conscience should isolate the government by boycotting all programmes and events that may be slated for the celebration of the June 12 election, until the exit of the present Buhari administration.
“We cannot continue to live in a nation where the exercise of the fundamental and constitutional rights of citizens depends on the personal idiosyncrasies of those in power, where the institutions of State are deployed whimsically, to settle personal grievances, as President Buhari is doing in respect of his personal dispute with Twitter, for which all Nigerians are now subjected to forced solidarity.
“It is unfortunate that the National Assembly could not find its voice in support of the people of Nigeria at this critical time when their rights are being trampled upon with crass impunity, by the executive arm of government.”
President Buhari had in June 2018 directed the nation’s Democracy Day to hold on June 12 of every year as against the previous arrangement where the ceremony was held on May 29.
The announcement was done in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 Presidential election, which was annulled by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.