House of Representatives, on Thursday, rejected a motion to lift the indefinite suspension of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria amid a rowdy session.
The motion led to a division between the lawmakers.
But the lower legislative chamber endorsed Federal Government’s decision to dialogue with Twitter.
The lawmakers took the decision after the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Olusegun Odebunmi, moved a motion for the consideration of the committee’s report.
Following the suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform in the country, the House of Representatives mandated four of its committees to summon the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to explain the circumstances behind the suspension of Twitter’s operations.
But when Mohammed appeared before the panel on June 22, he said the operation of Twitter in the country “is not legally permissible”.
But on Thursday as the report was being considered, the House was thrown into a rowdy session.
Deputy Speaker of the House and Chairman of Committee of the Whole, Idris Wase, who presided over the session, tackled Odebunmi over the report.
He said the National Security Adviser was not invited to participate at the investigative hearing.
But Odebunmi in his response said all the stakeholders were available at the hearing, saying that the NSA was represented.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, while contributing to the motion, said the hearing was conducted publicly.
“I will address the salient points. The reasons have been addressed. Lai Mohammed was invited. It wasn’t done in secret. It was well covered by radio, TV, papers. Whatever side we are on, the committee invited the minister,” he said.
Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu, kicked against the recommendations, adding that the report should not be considered.
He said, “The committee has not done a prudent work, and because they have not asked the parliament to take a resolution on this, it speaks to no issue.
“I will say that this report should not be considered. Why is there no legal angle to the decision on these other social media groups? They should go back and do a thorough job.”
Okechukwu demanded that the recommendations be amended to include that the “Federal Government should take into cognisance the hardship on Nigerians and lift the ban”.
But his demand was rejected.
The lawmakers adopted the recommendations of the report after it was put to a voice vote.
Below are the six recommendations as adopted by the House:
(i) That time be allowed for the Federal Government of Nigeria and Twitter to enter into the dialogue process that is already ongoing, so as to create room for amicable settlement on the matter;
(ii) That relevant government institutions such as the National Broadcasting Commission, Nigeria
Communication Satellite, etc., should be alive to their mandate by doing the needful to avoid future occurrence of this nature;
(iii) That the Federal Government should take into cognizance the negative effects of the Twitter suspension on Nigerians who depend on the platform for their livelihood;
vi) That the Federal Government should be pro-active in their interface with Twitter so as to come up with timely resolution on the matter;
(v) That freedom of expression is not absolute anywhere in the world. This is because security and freedom of expression sometimes present contending interests. Therefore, national
security must be guaranteed at all times as much as the right to free speech must be protected;
(vi) That government should always have communicated better with Nigerians when critical decisions are to be made.