Foremost digital rights group, Paradigm Initiative has made known its intention to challenge in court the decision of the Federal government to embark on social media surveillance of Nigerians. The group has joined the growing list of Nigerians that have voiced out opposition to government’s decision to monitor the usage of the social media by Nigerians as made known in news report after a security meeting with President Buhari last week.
According to ‘Boye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager for Anglophone West Africa, “we are deeply concerned that free speech online continues to suffer sustained attacks from agents of government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. The restriction of access to twenty one news websites including Naij.com is just one of the several attempts by the government to curtail people’s rights online. Therefore, the order by Mr Ali can only further negatively affects the digital space.”
As much as the Federal government has denied having such plans, recent actions of the Federal government has shown the government is not truthful as it relates to its decisions to restrict free speech in the country. At the moment there is a circulating letter on the social media from the leadership of the Nigerian Television Authority NTA mandating the staffs from sharing online press release. This is a direct affront at free speech which the government has failed to respond to.
Also in the 2018 budget there is a provision of about 2.2 billion Naira by the DSS for “a social media mining institute” what this seeks to do is still unknown to Nigerians considering the way the DSS has manhandled people for what they post on social media.
The decision of Paradigm Initiative to challenge the monitoring of social media usage by the Federal Government is the right way of protecting free speech from being eroded in the country