Kano-based Lawyer Faults NBA President’s Stand on Twitter Suspension
The president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, has been advised to always exercise caution while making statements on national issues on behalf of the association.
Former secretary of the Kano branch of the NBA, Mujtaba Adamu Ameen, said while speaking with Nigerian Sketch on Monday that the umbrella body of lawyers in Nigeria should be seen to have deliberated thoroughly on serious national issues before it takes a stand.
He said it was against the established convention of NBA for its president to be issuing statements he sat down alone to write in an arbitrary manner.
According to him, the position of NBA on the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria was not arrived at as it should have.
“The president of the NBA was speaking for himself or, at best one may say that he was arbitrarily taking decisions on behalf of the NBA.
“The tradition is that the National Executive Committee, which is the highest decision body, converges to reach a stand, especially on serious national issues as this.
“And, I’m not aware that there was any emergency meeting of the NEC called on the matter.”
He advised the NBA president to “always try to exercise some measure of restrain when issues of national concern are in the front burner. He should not be eager to make pronouncements without due consultation with the relevant stakeholders.
“We are professionals, and we should not be seen to be too political about our stands on national issues. We should also try not to dabble into everything at all times. Restrain is the key thing here.
“Concerning this Twitter ban, we have a lot of serious senior lawyers, former presidents of the NBA and co-opted professionals who can converge and come up with advices on how to move forward. I do not subscribe to the president just sitting down to arbitrarily issue statements to condemn the federal government’s decision on Twitter.”
Mujtaba explained that “As the president of the association, when whenever Mr Akpata speaks, the association speaks, and don’t forget that he signs these statements with his name as the president of the NBA. So, technically, he is speaking for the NBA.”
On the Twitter ban, Mujtaba said “The federal government has given its reasons for the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria, citing issues that border on national security, peace and order.
“If I understand the federal government’s directive properly, Twitter can as well make some amends, sit with the relevant authorities in Nigeria and get the go-ahead to recommence its operations.
“To my mind, no responsible nation will allow the s sort of thing Twitter was doing within its sovereign hemisphere, especially in tensed social and political arena as we have in Nigeria now.
“All what the NBA president was saying revolve around freedom of expression, but that has never been absolute anywhere in the world. In fact, where someone’s right stops is where another’s right begin. Remember that the federal government was.
“To my mind, the federal government was slow and late in taking the action it took because so much havoc have been persistently caused by the way most of the social media we use in Nigeria operate.
“I urge the federal government to look beyond Twitter and regulate the operation of all the social media handles that Nigerians subscribe to. Let them operate within the confines of the provisions of our laws.”
He said the Nigeria’s constitution recognizes the importance of national security in the provision of Section 14 (1)(b) of the 199 constitution (as amended) “which states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
He called on Twitter to engage with the federal government of Nigeria to ensure that “it operates professionally within its lawful boundaries so that the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information will be accurate, pure and safe.”