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Social Media Ban: Group Vows To Mobilise Action Against FG


computer-ban-360As the world marks the International Right to Know Day, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has vowed to mobilize the civil society against the Federal Government if the government of President Goodluck Jonathan did not drop threat of attack social media.

It said “any such threat can only continue to strangle freedom of expression and limit the accountability of government.”

SERAP’s  Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement said “The 2011 Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression has underscored the importance of freedom of expression on the Internet, and urged governments not to arbitrarily restrict this right.”

“The call by government officials for censorship of social media is entirely unnecessary as social media has played an important role in educating the ordinary citizens about the performance of their governments, and on issues of transparency and accountability. Social media are important to the work of human rights defenders everywhere. Any attempt to undermine this work will be resisted by civil society through national and international legal actions.

“Freedom of expression on the Internet is a fundamental freedom. It is absolutely crucial to citizens’ rights to communicate and associate, and to the enjoyment of their other human rights, including the right to know how their governments are run, and to hold their leaders accountable,” SERAP said.

The organization also stated that, “The threats against the social media such as Premium Times and Sahara Reporters patently offend the constitution and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments. Any arbitrary restrictions to freedom of expression including on the Internet through social media will be unnecessary in a democratic society, and clearly inconsistent with the conduct of a government reputed to have passed the Freedom of Information Act.”

The body said rather than equating the role of social media in promoting transparency, accountability, and the rule of law to incitement to violence, any serious and people-oriented government should actually work to promote it, saying that the best solution to terrorism, insecurity and violence in any country was good governance and the rule of law and not flagrant infringement of internationally recognized human rights.

The organization added that while it was important to protect personal integrity in social media, a clean, transparent and accountable government that had nothing to fear would not use this ground as an excuse to undermine the sacred right to freedom of expression.

According to SERAP, secrecy practices foster corruption as public access to information was vital for anti-corruption efforts while corruption undermined democracy, human rights and sustainable development.

“This government needs to move faster to implement transparency commitments made under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) by demonstrating a higher level of tolerance for human rights, including freedom of expression. The president can show this by releasing to the public his asset declaration details, and publicly committing to improved transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The president should urgently introduce public registers of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and for those PEPs to file and publish comprehensive declarations,” it said.

It would be recalled that the federal government on Friday through the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, claimed that social media community “are publishing reports capable of undermining military strategy against extremists, and stir mutiny within the military.”

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