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Buhari’s letter ordering telcos to block Twitter can’t be made public for national security: NCC

NCC disclosed Buhari’s letter ordering telecommunications providers to suspend access to Twitter will not be made public, as it can result in national security threats.

• July 8, 2021
Pantami and Buhari
Minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami and President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter ordering telecommunications providers to suspend access to Twitter will not be made public, as it can result in national security threats.

The disclosure followed an FOI request by the human rights organisation Global Rights.

The organisation sought that the NCC furnish it with a copy of the letter.

In less than 24 hours after Mr Buhari’s regime banned Twitter over claims that the social media platform was used to spread false information and “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” the NCC instructed network providers to block access to Twitter.

Global Rights’ June 9 request followed a series of criticisms that trailed the regime’s decision which many described as a flagrant disregard of freedom of expression.

Responding to the organisation’s letter on June 17, NCC requested a seven-day extension to respond.

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.”

In a second letter, the commission turned down Global Rights’ request because 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.”

“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.

Mr Buhari’s Twitter ban followed the removal of the president’s genocidal threats against Igbos on the platform.

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