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Twitter suspension: NCC declines FOI request to make Buhari’s letter public

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The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has declined a Freesom of Information (FoI) request for it to make public President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter ordering the agency to
block Twitter in Nigeria.

The communications regulatory agency cited security concerns, if it went ahead to release the letter.

The NCC’s stance followed the FoI letter by an Abuja based Human Rights organisation, Global Rights, which asked the agency to furnish it with President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter that ocassioned the suspension of micro-blogging channel in Nigeria.

CAPITAL POST recalled that Twitter took down Buhari’s outburst about the previous civil war from his Twitter accounts which they claimed was against their policy.

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But in less than 24 hours, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed announcement the ban on access to Twitter, saying that the micro blogging site was used to spread falsehood against the administration.

The ban by President Buhari’s regime elicited wild reactions by millions of Nigerians within and outside the country including the business community.

Also lawyers and public affairs analysts considered the development an infraction on the Freedom of Expression, while pressure was being mounted from various quarters to rescind.

In its earlier response to the Global Rights, the organisation’s letter on June 17, NCC requested for seven-day extension to put their acts together.

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In the letter titled, ‘Re:Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Act 2011: Directive Banning Access to Twitter in Nigeria,’ the NCC said: “We are currently reviewing your request.

“However, as provided for in Section 6 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, we hereby request for an extension of time of a further seven days to enable us to respond accordingly.”

Declining the request through a second letter, the Commission said: “Mr Buhari’s letter could fuel national insecurity if made public.”

Citing section 11 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, NCC, in the letter dated July 5, said making the letter public might be “injurious to the conduct of International Affair and the defence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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“We have reviewed your letter requesting that the Commission furnish you with a copy of the Federal Government’s directive to telecommunications operators to discontinue access to Twitter. Please be informed that the requested information borders on issues of national security,” it said in a copy of the letter seen by Peoples Gazette.

“Accordingly, in line with the provisions of Section 11 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the commission is unable to accede to your request,” NCC added.

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