The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the plan to monitor Nigerians on social media.
SERAP in a letter by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale was reacting to the directive to the military to clam down on perpetrators of hate speeches.
In the letter sent to the President, SERAP said the move would portray the government as trying to control the media and life of Nigerians.
It urged the President to immediately ask the military to stop any form of monitoring of Nigerians.
It read, “Classifying legitimate exercise of freedom of expression as ‘hate speech’ is counter-productive, In exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and privacy, Nigerians should be allowed to speak truth to power and stand up for their rights.
“To monitor Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that it may be used to express views critical of the government or the political social system espoused by the government is entirely incompatible and inconsistent with constitutional guarantees and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments.
“SERAP notes that protecting critical expression on the internet is the standard by which governments are now held to be considered genuinely democratic.
“Nigerians should therefore be allowed to discuss government policies and engage in political debate; report on corruption in government; and exercise their right to expression of opinion and dissent.
“While we recognize the obligation to protect against hate speech that constitutes incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence, this should not be used as a pretext to clampdown on legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression that does not constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
“Instructing the military to end any such monitoring would help your government to defend and keep to its oft-repeated commitment to human rights, transparency and accountability.”
It asked the president to “use your good offices and leadership position to instruct the military authorities to immediately end any monitoring of activities of Nigerians on the social media, and to ensure that military operations comply with Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and the country’s obligations under international human rights law”.