Pro-democracy, good governance and human rights group, Concerned Nigerians, has lampooned the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for blaming social media users for Twitter’s choice of Ghana for her African office.
In a statement by the group’s Convener, Deji Adeyanju, the group said the minister and president Muhammadu Buhari-led government are to blame for this opportunity that has eluded Nigeria.
According to the statement, it is unpatriotic for the minister whom, according to the group, had continuously threatened to shut the social media all in the bid to gag free speech.
The group, however, called on the minister to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians for trying to shift the blame on them.
The statement reads thus:
“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 forum, 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 way for a more technologically exposed citizen.
“We therefore, call on Alhaji Lai Mohammed to retract his words and offer an unreserved apology to Nigerian citizens, as no entity has damaged the Nigerian brand like the present government,” the statement concluded.