Twitter ban: Senate challenges Nigerians to sue AGF

June 9, 2021
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Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, on Wednesday, evaded questions on the ongoing controversy over the clampdown on the social media platform, Twitter by the Federal Government.

The Senator representing Osun Central at a media session declined comments as he said the Senate has no official position.

Tribune Online checks revealed that the House of Representatives had since summoned the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to appear before its joint committee on Justice, Commerce and Information over the controversial suspension of Twitter.

Senator Ajibola said: “The Senate has not considered the issue of the Twitter ban and it would be wrong of him to express his personal opinion.”

He further challenged Nigerians who have strong reservations about the pronouncements of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) that violators of the clampdown on Twitter would be prosecuted to initiate legal actions against the AGF.

He said: “If I express any opinion, it will be my personal opinion and there is the tendency that my opinion may be judged to be that of the Senate. So, I don’t have the mandate of the Nigerian Senate to talk on the issue of Twitter.

“I will exercise restraint and be on the cautionary note so that I will not be quoted as speaking for the Senate on the Twitter ban. However, journalists have access to the Attorney General of the Federation to challenge him and come up with a legal basis for whatever action he has taken. When it comes to interpreting laws in Nigeria, the buck stops at his table. To challenge his opinion, the way to go about it is to go to court. I am not in a position to take him on his action.

“The basis for the rule of law is that there must be the legal basis for the executive and legislative actions. It is when the Senate consider the issue at plenary that we will be able to have a full opinion that we can express to Nigerians. Senate will address the issue at the appropriate time.”

Asked by newsmen if he was concerned about the perception of the ninth Senate as an appendage of the Executive arm of government, Senator Ajibola said the focus of the Senate under Ahmad Lawan was to sustain a harmonious relationship with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

“There must be a distinction between working in harmonious relationships and working in a cantankerous relationship that will not augur well for the development of our country.

“All of us are aware of beneficial projects, beneficial legislation that were thrown overboard both by the executive and the legislative arm in the 8th assembly, they worked not to the detriment of the members of the executive or members in the national assembly, but to Nigerians.

“We have worked as much as possible to reduce this friction, try to have a cohesive administration that is able to promote the good of the commonality rather than reducing it to ego issues between the executive and legislative arm.

“But at several times, we have had instances where nominations have been made by the executive and have been rejected or stopped and then the executive will take the heat and come to substitute.

“Rather than take a combative approach to governance, the present leadership and the national assembly takes a more cooperative attitude because our mantra is that we should work together for the betterment of Nigeria rather than engaging in name-calling and shouting at the floor in a way that is detrimental to our collective goal.”

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