A group, Concerned Nigerians, has lambasted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for insinuating that “unpatriotic Nigerians” were the reason why media and communications multinational, Twitter, decided to situate its African headquarters in Ghana, rather than in Nigeria.
The group reminded Mohammed that under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the government had made free speech a criminal offence, and also detained citizens for simply exercising their right to free speech through social media.
The group in a release by its convener, Deji Adeyanju, stated on Thursday that the Buhari government under which the minister serves, is also notorious for attacking online news organisation – a bad pointer to the international world.
The group said, “It is no longer news that social media giant Twitter has chosen Ghana as its preferred destination to host its African’s office. While Nigerians, across board, have taken this information with some sobriety, on how much Nigeria has fallen down the pecking order as an investment destination, the Minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has chosen to close his eyes to the obvious realities by suggesting that Twitter’s decision was based on alleged acts of sabotage by ‘unpatriotic citizens’. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
“We recall, with great sadness, that at least six years prior to Twitter’s recent decision, Nigeria gradually evolved into an entity where free speech has become a criminal offence. We particularly note Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s utterances at various forums, where he pointedly threatened to close down the internet or social media in Nigeria.
“At various times, the Government of the day, for which Alhaji Lai Mohammed served as a principal actor, has arrested and indefinitely detained citizens for simply exercising their right to free speech through social media. We are also not unmindful of the government’s attack on online news platforms in Nigeria. Some of these platforms have been forced to publish their stories through alternative networks by bypassing the government regulated telecommunication companies. One needs no soothsayer to note that the Nigerian Communications Commission, the parent agency regulating telecom companies in Nigeria, is directly under the office of Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“From the foregoing, we hasten to state that Alhaji Lai’s Mohammed attempt to place the blame on social media users and ‘unpatriotic citizens’ is ridiculous and embarrassing. In saner climes, Alhaji Lai Mohammed would have resigned his appointment to create a way for a more technologically exposed citizen.
“We therefore, call on Alhaji Lai Mohammed to retract his words and offer an unreserved apology to Nigeria citizens, as no entity has damaged the Nigerian brand like the present government.”