Cameroon is currently embroiled in a major crisis. The calls for secession in the Southern region of the country has led to lots of casualties due to the confrontation between the military and the residents.
Chief of this is the consistent Internet shutdown in that part of Cameroon, all in a bid to suppress their voices. The Internet and Social Media has emerged as the new voice of the voiceless and a means of expressing opinions both cool and aggrieved.
The decision of President Paul Biya to shut down Internet services has been greeted with criticisms by several local and international Non-Governmental Organisations still, the government is not showing signs of resisting such attempts in the future.
The latest report on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) last month which confirms the suspicion that the Buhari-led federal government of Nigeria is spying on Internet and social media users has unsettled the Nigerian human right communities.
According to the report, Facebook said the government of Nigeria specified the highest number of user information requests on its platform with 113 accounts while there were 96 users’ information requests during the second half of 2015 after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015.
Such sour development tends towards the ongoing experience of Southern Cameroonians which is an infringement on the human rights of social media users.
Coming at a time the federal government is trying to regulate the Nigerian Press through its obnoxious introduction of new press code and the decision by the Nigerian army to commence a social media surveillance.
There is a palpable fear about the 2019 general elections drawing an inference from the Biya experience in Cameroon which will surely be rebuffed by Nigerians across all strata.
The decision of the federal government to spend millions of dollars on such request made to companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter e.t.c is a clear misplacement of priorities and a means of weakening dissenting voices against the government.
That such request was made by a government that claims to promote free speech has elicited a sigh of worry as to what will obtain by the time the politicking for the 2019 General elections starts.
That’s when we will be able to conclude if the federal government is planning the Biya example or not.