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SERAP Challenges Buhari to Provide Agreement With Twitter

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Agreement With Twitter

By Adedapo Adesanya

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to provide a copy of the agreement the federal government had with the social media company, Twitter.

On Wednesday, January 12, the FG announced that it has reached an arrangement with the micro-blogging site to lift the ban it placed on its use in Nigeria on June 4, 2021.

Now, the organisation is calling on the President to use his good offices and leadership position to direct the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, to provide it with a copy of the agreement recently signed with Twitter, and to widely publish the details of any such agreement.

SERAP also urged him to “direct Alhaji Lai Mohammed to clarify the manner and scope in which the agreement with Twitter will be enforced, including whether the agreement incorporates respect for human rights, consistent with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international obligations.”

In a letter dated January 15, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the agreement would enable Nigerians to scrutinize it, seek legal remedies as appropriate, and ensure that the conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter are not used as pretexts to suppress legitimate discourse.”

SERAP said: “Publishing the agreement with Twitter would also promote transparency, accountability, and help to mitigate threats to Nigerians’ rights online, as well as any interference with online privacy in ways that deter the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression.”

According to SERAP, “Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights, such as the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, peaceful assembly, and association, as well as public participation both offline and online.”

“Any agreement with social media companies must meet constitutional and international requirements, including legality, necessity, proportionality, and legitimacy.

“This means that any conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter must meet the requirements of regular legal processes and limit government discretion. Secretly agreed conditions will fail these fundamental requirements.

“The government has a duty to demonstrate that the conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter would not threaten or violate the enjoyment of Nigerians’ human rights online and that the conditions are in pursuit of a legitimate goal in a democratic society.

“SERAP is concerned that the operation and enforcement of the agreement may be based on broadly worded restrictive laws, which may be used as pretexts to suppress legitimate discourse, interfere with online privacy, and deter the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression,” it also stated.

It added: “For example, the statement by the government announcing the lifting of the suspension of Twitter used overly broad terms and phrases like ‘prohibited publication’, ‘Nigerian laws’, ‘national culture and history’. These open-ended terms and phrases may be used to suppress the legitimate exercise of human rights online.

“Any agreement with social media companies must not be used as a ploy to tighten governmental control over access to the internet, monitor internet activity, or to increase online censorship and the capacity of the government to restrict legitimate online content, contrary to standards on freedom of expression and privacy.

“SERAP notes the interdependence of human rights, such as the importance of privacy as a gateway to freedom of expression.

“Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee the right to hold opinions without interference, and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and through any medium.

“The Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties impose duties on your government to ensure enabling environments for freedom of expression, privacy rights, and other human rights, and to protect their exercise.”

SERAP noted that “While human rights law requires States to prohibit ‘advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’, States must still satisfy the cumulative conditions of legality, necessity, proportionality and legitimacy in any agreement with social media companies.

“Your government has a legal obligation to promote universal Internet access, media diversity, and independence, as well as ensure that any agreements with Twitter and other social media companies are not used to impermissibly restrict these fundamental human rights.

“By the combined reading of the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, there are transparency obligations imposed on your government to widely publish the agreement and details of the conditions upon which the suspension of Twitter was lifted.

“It is stated in the statement by the Federal Government that Twitter has reached an agreement with the government ‘to manage prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws.’ We would be grateful for clarifications on the definition of ‘prohibited information,’ and the specific applicable Nigerian laws in the context of the agreement.

“It is also stated in the statement by the Federal Government that Twitter has agreed to ‘act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built.’ We would be grateful for clarifications on the specific and applicable Nigerian laws, national culture, and history upon which the operation and enforcement of the agreement will be based.

“We would be grateful if the requested information and details are provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action in the public interest to compel your government to comply with our request.

“According to our information, the approval was given to lift the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 am 13th January 2022 following the memo sent to you by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim. The decision to lift the suspension was reportedly based on the recommendations by the Technical Committee on Nigeria-Twitter Engagement.

“SERAP notes that Alhaji Lai Mohammed on 5th June 2021, announced the suspension of operation of Twitter by the Federal Government, following which a seven-man Presidential Committee was set up to engage Twitter Inc. The Presidential Committee, in turn, established a 20-member Technical Committee, which reportedly directly worked with the Twitter team.”

The letter was copied to Mr Lai Mohammed and Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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NDLEA Sets Ablaze N194bn Cocaine Seized in Lagos

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NDLEA cocaine

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The 1.8 tonnes of cocaine worth N194 billion recovered by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from a warehouse in the Ikorodu area of Lagos last week has been set ablaze.

The illicit drug was burnt on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, in the Badagry area of Lagos and was witnessed by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the agency, Mr Buba Marwa.

Mr Marwa, represented by the Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Deputy Commander General of Narcotics (DCGN), Mr Sunday Joseph, said the cocaine was set ablaze following an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

He said the sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld, noting that this has made it imperative for Nigerians to continue to support NDLEA in the renewed war against illicit drugs.

The NDLEA chief said out of the 1.8-tonne seizure, 1,828 blocks of the cocaine will be crushed and set ablaze, while the remnant will be secured for the purpose of prosecution of the suspects who were brought to witness the procedure and sign the certificate of destruction.

According to him, the agency is proceeding with the prosecution of those arrested in connection with this consignment, promising that the organisation will pursue the trial to a logical conclusion.

“Since January 25, 2021, when we commenced our offensive action against drug traffickers, the Agency has secured record convictions.

“Presently, 2,904 drug offenders are serving various jail terms, while other cases are ongoing in court, which we are confident will end in positive results too,” he was quoted as saying in a statement signed by the spokesman of the agency, Mr Femi Babafemi.

While soliciting more support for the agency’s work, Mr Marwa said the safety of society was the responsibility of every citizen.

He said the fact that the Ikorodu operation was conducted clinically without any skirmish or bloodshed was further testimony to the evolution of the NDLEA and its new capabilities and a pointer to the fact that the game has changed in the war against illicit drugs.

He expressed appreciation to the organisation’s international partners, especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA), which supported the cocaine syndicate bust and the Nigerian military that provided additional firepower during the operation, as well as other law enforcement agencies that have been supporting efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.

The NDLEA had in a well-coordinated and intelligence-led operation that lasted two days last week, stormed a hidden warehouse at 6 Olukunola Street, Solebo Estate, Ikorodu. Five suspects, including a Jamaican, were arrested.

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Afenifere’s Support for Peter Obi Good for Nigeria’s Unity—SERG

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Peter Obi indices of development

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The endorsement of the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, by a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has been applauded by a pan-Igbo socio-political pressure organisation, the South East Revival Group (SERG).

In a statement issued in Abuja by the president and national coordinator of SERG, Mr Willy Ezugwu, the group said the support for the former Governor of Anambra State for the 2023 presidential election was good for the unity of Nigeria.

The leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, had said for equity, justice and fairness, the organisation would be throwing its weight with the candidate of Igbo extraction as it was the turn of the South East to govern Nigeria.

“The unequivocal support coming from credible South West political bloc, which the Afenifere represents, is a support for equity and justice, which will boost Nigeria’s national unity,” SERG said.

It maintained that “the renewed declaration of support for the Peter Obi presidential bid, alongside his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, by the Afenifere has demonstrated that there are still individuals and groups around who love the country and would sacrifice anything to keep Nigeria united and prosperous.

“The support by Afenifere is in line with the advocacy sustained by the former Executive Governor of Kaduna State and elder statesman, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, ahead of the 2023 general elections before his death.

“Alhaji Balarabe Musa had urged Nigerians to give the South East the chance to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023 to give the region a sense of belonging.

“We, therefore, totally agree with Pa Adebanjo that by the Afenifere’s support, the group is contributing to shaping Nigeria into a truly Federal Republic where no person or ethnic nationality would be sidelined or oppressed.

“We recognize the fact that Afenifere, as well as the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, have been consistent in their advocacy for restructuring and, by extension, the need for a Nigerian President of South East extraction as part of efforts towards national integration.

“With this reiterated endorsement from the Afenifere against all odds, it should now sink into the minds of all Nigerians, especially South East political leaders, that the Peter Obi presidential bid is devoid of ethnic colouration and must be embraced by all and sundry in Igboland.

“We, therefore, call on all Igbo sons and daughters to join the support train, not because Peter Obi is an Igbo but because he has proven to be competent with a reasonable understanding of Nigeria’s problems and how they can be fixed.

“Nigeria is greatly troubled in every sector, with complications from security challenges as evident in all parts of the country, and we need urgent rescue from total collapse.

“Peter Obi has a track record of integrity, competence, and proven performance and has expressed his readiness to work with Nigerians of all tribes and religions to make the country work again by focusing on production, which will boost the country’s economy and return the country to the path of recovery and prosperity,” the SERG said.

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Mele Kyari to Speak at Africa Oil Week

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Africa Oil Week

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mr Mele Kyari, will attend Africa Oil Week (AOW). He will address the audience on how the nation will contribute to Africa’s energy transition through gas.

The NNPC chief will participate in a panel discussion at AOW and will bring leading energy stakeholders together on October 3-7, 2022, in Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme — Sustainable Growth in a Low Carbon World.

Mr Kyari will participate in the panel discussion, Natural gas and the African continent: How can Africa bridge the regional and global energy deficit using natural gas as a transition fuel.

Investments in the oil and gas sector are crucial for easing Nigeria’s domestic gas utilisation issues. Gas utilisation as a transition fuel will help grow the economy and help to bridge the energy gap. Investments in its oil and gas sector are needed to fast-track Nigeria’s energy transition plan.

The global energy crisis has highlighted the need for a more secure and diverse supply across the world. As sub-Saharan Africa continues to have energy challenges, gas has been identified as a potential solution, but the real opportunities remain under-tapped.

Natural gas is expected to be the main source of our future energy, with its greatest advantage being that it creates half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal. The lower prices of renewables and their quick installation, while limiting emissions in the short term, make it an attractive option for stabilizing the path to renewables. Natural gas is one of the most affordable and reliable energy sources, and systems that impact energy security need innovation.

With lower carbon emissions, natural gas is a potential option for a renewable and efficient energy supply. In countries throughout Africa, renewables are key to promoting natural gas as a resource. A recent UN report has stated that biomass, coal, oil, and other fuels will not be enough to power Africa’s future.

Others expected to join the panellists are Mr Benoit de la Fouchardiere, Group General Manager, Perenco; Mrs Eberechukwu Oji, CEO, ND Wester; Ms Nina Koch, Head of Africa, Equinor; Mr Ademola Adeyemi-Bero, Managing Director, First E&P; and Mr Sop Ideriah, Managing Director Nigeria & West Africa Countries, Schlumberger.

Now entering its 28th year, the event brings together governments, national and international oil companies, independents, investors, the G&G community and service providers.

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