The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has assembled a 13-man team to lead its legal battle against the Federal Government over the suspension of the microblogging site, Twitter, in Nigeria.
Rapulu Nduka, the NBA National Publicity Secretary, disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday.
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”.
The NBA had in a statement by Olumide Akpata, its National President, immediately opposed the suspension, noting that it would challenge the Federal Government in court if the decision is not reversed.
With the suspension of the two-month strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) on Wednesday, Nduka revealed that the NBA has set up a 13-member committee had been set up to handle matters relating to the suit the association planned to file against the Federal Government.
According to the lawyer, the committee in charge of the suit is the NBA Public Interest Litigation Committee.
“A committee has already been set up by the NBA to handle matters related to the intended suit. The members of the committee will do whatever it takes to address the issue,” Nduka told the Punch.
“The mandate of the committee, among other things, is to actively take steps to reinforce the faith of society in law, bring solutions to societal issues and most especially, to check the abuse of power.
“The committee is chaired by Dr Charles Mekwunye, with Dr Olumide Ayeni (SAN) acting as its co-chairman. Other members of the committee include Dr Paul Ananaba (SAN), Kunle Edun, Aderemi Oguntoye, Boonyameen Lawal, Solomon Oho, Gloria Ballason, Malachy Odo, Olumide Babalola, Baba Isah, Amaka Ezeno, and Auwal Yau.”
Nduka said the court would, among other things, determine if the Federal Government had the power to suspend the operations of a company like Twitter just because President Buhari is unhappy with its policies.
He said: “I must also confess that from the look of things, the Federal Government is trying to soft-pedal on the situation. We are watching and waiting for the courts to resume in order to take actions.
“We do not only have the present administration in mind, some of these issues may arise in another administration and we do not want history to repeat itself.
“The motto of the NBA is ‘promoting the rule of law.’ It is unbelievable that the government has threatened to prosecute any Nigerian caught violating its order. I think the threat may have been made out of anger without recourse to its consequences.
“In the first place, under what law would such Nigerians be prosecuted? Also, what happens to the freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution which is a fundamental human right?
“In this light, we vow to protect and defend any Nigerian who will be prosecuted for tweeting, in violation of the Federal Government’s order. In essence, they have not committed any crime and we hope to defend them when the time comes.”