Buhari has lost over 4.1 million Twitter followers after threatening to deal with South Easterners in now deleted tweet by Twitter.
News Online reports that President Muhammadu Buhari may have lost the 4.1 million people who follow him on the microblogging social media platform, Twitter for updates on his activities as his latest Tweet threatening “to deal with” youths compromising the security and peace of the nation “in the language they understand ” was pulled down yesterday.
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The President’s Tweet which was issued after a meeting with security chiefs may have been interpreted as a veiled reference to heightened agitation by Biafra separatists in the five South-east states under the aegis of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which sometimes turn violent with resulting casualties.
This pointer to IPOB may not be unconnected with Buhari’s mention of the Nigerian Civil War in which he was an active participant. The 30-month war between 1967 and 1970 pitched the forces of the Federal Government of Nigeria led by former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) against Biafran soldiers led by the late Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
The authorities of Twitter may have been pressured to pull down the Nigerian President’s Tweet as a result of the number of people who reported it as an offensive hate speech.
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The Tweet may have crossed the line of Twitter Rules which frown at abusive and spammy behavior. Twitter Rules clearly state “We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behavior, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.”
However, the Federal Government has expressed discontent with Twitter after the social media site deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet that spoke of treating people in the “language they understand.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who reacted questioned the role of Twitter in the secessionist agitation in the South-east
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He alleged that the role of Twitter in Nigeria is suspect, noting that the social media platform also backed opponents of government during the #EndSARS protests.
The Information Minister said “Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views. Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges. If an organisation is proscribed, it is different from any other which is not proscribed.
“Two, any organisation that gives directives to its members, to attack police stations, to kill policemen, to attack correctional centres, to kill warders, and you are now saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that? We are the ones guilty of double standards. I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation, a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria, and will direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police, the military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed. By whatever name, you can’t justify giving orders to kill policemen or to kill anybody you do not agree with.”
Mr. Mohammed’s allusion to comparison of apple and orange may be a response to critics who accuse The Presidency of not treating Boko Haram insurgents, killer herdsmen and bandits with similar disdain. They say the activities of these groups are more dastardly and damaging to the Nigerian society yet The Presidency shows indifference to them.
United Nations Secretary-General, Ambassador António Guterres in May 2019 document, “Tackling hate speech is also crucial to deepen progress across the United Nations agenda by helping to prevent armed conflict, atrocity crimes and terrorism, end violence against women and other serious violations of human rights, and promote peaceful, inclusive and just societies. Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.”
Hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality
The attempt to establish the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill better known as “Hate Speech Bill” remains one of the most controversial Bills to be passed by the legislative arm of government in Nigeria. Although, it is still at the first reading stage,2 it has already received a lot of criticism and agitations by various groups.
stakeholders clamouring for a review of the capital punishments prescribed in the Bill or for the discountenance of the Bill in its entirety. Many perceive the Bill as an attempt by the government to place limitations on the freedom of expression of its citizens, a fundamental human right enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria,3 while some others see it as a Bill which not only goes against morality but is an offshoot of the antics of some political leaders who desire to further their personalised objectives.
The stated objective of the Bill is to promote national cohesion and integration by outlawing unfair discrimination, hate speeches and the establishment of an Independent National Commission for the prohibition of hate speeches and connected matters. The Bill specifically prohibits the commission of ethnic discrimination, hate speech, harassment on the basis of ethnicity, ethnic or racial contempt and discrimination by way of victimization by individuals or corporate bodies. The Federal High Court is the court empowered with exclusive jurisdiction to try all offences of such nature under the Bill.4
The draft Bill is structured into four parts