Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed a new resolution to investigate the legality of the indefinite suspension of Twitter operations in the country. The investigation was announced on Tuesday.
This represents the first major move by the legislative body on the suspension of the social media service. The government’s decision to suspend Twitter has been met with significant criticism from Nigerians. The country’s National Assembly has also been criticised for their perceived silence and inaction on the matter, reports Tech Cabal.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says that the members of the lower chamber have been “inundated with comments about the decision [to suspend Twitter], requests for intervention and criticism” since the ban.
According to Gbajabiamila, the House recognises Twitter, along with other social media networks, as an “important tool” for communication and commerce in the country. He believes that Twitter is important “particularly amongst the younger generation who have used these networks for enterprise and innovation with great success.”
Gbajabiamila, however, warned that even if the social media platform is an important means for communication and business for young Nigerians, the government has a responsibility that it is not used to undermine national security, echoing the sentiment behind the Twitter ban.
He does believe though that lawmakers must see to it that government decisions and policies are in line with the law and that they do not adversely affect Nigerians.
As part of the investigation to be performed by the House Committees on Communication, Justice, Information & Culture, and National Security & Intelligence, Lai Mohammed – Minister of Culture and Information and the man behind the initial announcement of the ban – has been invited to brief the House on the intent and duration of the social media service’s suspension.
The committees are expected to question Mohammed and report to the House within 10 days to guide further action by the lawmakers on the matter, Gbajabiamila said.
Nigerians seek Internet Freedom Through VPNs
Nigerians have continued to use Twitter via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), available through ordinarily inexpensive subscriptions. Some VPN services have exploded in popularity in the country since the ban.
Compared to the previous weekend, ExpressVPN.com saw more than a 200% increase in Nigerian web traffic. The biggest spike came on Saturday, June 6th, when web traffic increased by around 250% compared to the day prior. The day after Twitter was banned in the country.
VPNs have gained popularity around the globe for their virtually untraceable nature which guarantees internet privacy, as well as their ability to unlock location-specific content, such as access to video streaming services usually unavailable in Africa, Disney+ being an example.