Sunday, 13 June 2021

Items filtered by date: June 2021

Pastor Folorunsho Emmanuel Bamiduro, a Lagos-based cleric cum rights activist, was a childhood friend and ex-classmate of the late Prophet T.B. Joshua. He spoke with KUNLE AKINRINADE on the early life of the renowned prophet and how he started from the Celestial Church of Christ before establishing Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

  • Says he was highly mystical in secondary school

  • Synagogue’s founder was in love with James Hardly Chase’s, Shakespeare’s novels in school days

  • How he began missionary work in Celestial Church

How much of the late Prophet T.B. Joshua did you know?

There is a linkage between us. We were childhood friends. I am a native of Ikare- Akoko while Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua was an indigene of Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State. I must say that Akoko indigenes love themselves very much and love to do things together wherever they live, because we are unique. He was a confirmed prophet because Akoko is one of the Yoruba towns renowned for producing great prophets, just like Ijeshaland.

There is the story that the late Cherubim and Seraphim Church founder, Prophet Moses Orimolade, who is also a native of Akoko, had blessed the area by dipping his rod into water and prophesying that Akokoland would produce many prophets. Hence, many people, including the late Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) founder, Apostle Ayo Babalola, who carried out the greater part of his missionary work in Akokoland, myself and the deceased (Joshua) are prophets today.

Joshua was very cautious and exhibited circumspection in choosing his friends right from when we were in school at Ansar-Ud-Deen (AUD) Grammar School, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State. He was much obsessed with reading (James) Hardley Chase and Shakespeare novels, while I loved and still love to read novels about war and combatant stories because my childhood ambition was to join the military. He was fond of guarding his novels jealously by keeping them under his armpit when in school, because he didn’t want them to be stolen or borrowed by anyone.

We both had a circle of friends in school back then. The current Special Adviser on Tourism and Culture to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Wale Ojo-Lanre, was one of our classmates and friend, and others like Rotimi Aromolaran and Barrister Wole Ademuwagun.

What kind of person was he in school back then?

He was a boy with many characters. He was a very brave student, very funny and comical, and made people laugh. He also loved to be alone most times.

What year did you finish school?

All of us, including Joshua, graduated from the school in 1982, and we never met again until a few years later.

Did he show any traits of potential clergyman while you were growing up?

Yes, he was fond of beating drums in church and singing during our Wednesday and Sunday fellowships in school, and he was generally a very mystical character in the way he conducted himself.

At what point did you reconnect with him after your secondary school days?

We got in touch about five years after we left school and we continued with our friendship.

Prophet Joshua actually lived with me when he relocated to Lagos. I had been living in Lagos before he joined me, and he lived with me for four years at my residence somewhere in Lagos here.

He later moved on with his life and I also started my missionary work somewhere in Abule Egba, a Lagos suburb, while he established his church in the Ikotun area of Alimosho.

A lot of people wonder how he started his ministry before he established Synagogue Church at Ikotun…

No man falls down from the sky. He certainly has his own history in the vineyard and how he trained and worked with some clergymen before founding his own church. What I know is that he trained and worked under two men of God who are also late now. I know that in the beginning when he relocated to Lagos, he started his cleric work in a white garment denomination, Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) to be precise, before he founded his own church-Synagogue Church of All Nations at Ikotun. Those who say he had no background as a cleric are only envious of him and his outstanding ministry.

Did you keep in touch with him regularly before his death?

We kept in touch on the phone once in a while because of our busy schedules. I am very busy and he was always very busy too. Most of the time he gave me appointments to see him, I couldn’t make it because I was also very busy with my church activities and rights activism.

Did you have any plan to see him before his death?

We had fixed our reunion for December because it had been a long time we met as ex-students since we left secondary school. One of us, Rotimi Ademuwagun, is the one coordinating all members of our set for the reunion. Joshua had met with him and they had discussed extensively the reunion programme. We were all looking forward to the event, not knowing that he would die so soon.

How did you feel when you received the news of his death?

My reaction was that of a delayed shock. I still don’t know what to say now because his death is a colossal loss to the entire Akokoland.

Published in Headliners

Greetings President Muhammadu Buhari,

The hope of Nigeria lies within this generation. I am proudly a Nigerian descendant living in America and am a proponent of Bitcoin. I write to urge the Nigerian government to pursue economic independence and financial sovereignty by pursuing a national Bitcoin standard. Soon every nation will be faced with this decision, but those who seize the present moment proactively as we have just witnessed in El Salvador, will enjoy significant advantages globally for generations to come.

It is no secret that the current global economic environment is worrisome and unsustainable. Sadly, the fate of the Nigerian economy is in the hands of global central bankers who do not represent the best interests of the Nigerian people. Despite the challenges we face, the resilience of Nigerians continues to inspire. The Nigerian society enjoys more favorable conditions than many of its neighbors. However, even greater opportunity awaits with the adoption of national action in favor of a Bitcoin standard.

The tone of this letter is meant to convey urgency both in terms of the forthcoming economic despair and the limited window to act on this opportunity with fierce boldness and strong leadership. While the challenges of COVID-19 and increased global unrest continue to instill fear in the hearts and minds of citizens everywhere, Nigerians can claim international greatness by rising to the occasion that our unique times require.

Nations such as Iran, Russia, China and Kenya have been reportedly mining or otherwise utilizing bitcoin, often as a means to circumvent U.S. sanctions which prevent them from full participation in the global financial system. Other nations like Barbados, Singapore and Malta have moved to become “bitcoin friendly” in an effort to attract wealth and human capital through migration. And this week, El Salvador became the world’s first nation to require merchants to accept bitcoin as legal tender. I’m proposing an equally aggressive approach to national Bitcoin adoption which would significantly bolster every sector of the Nigerian economy and revitalize the spirit of every Nigerian domestically and abroad.

Bitcoin is not controlled, managed or operated by any single entity. It is an innovation that will surpass the automobile or the internet in terms of its impact on humanity. Nigeria does not need to ask for permission from any other nation nor acquire a license nor secure a trade agreement from any corporation to reshape its economy with Bitcoin. All that is required is a vision for a new future and an allocation of its own national resources to pursue a Bitcoin standard.

The primary reason for urgently pursuing and executing a national plan for adoption is the finite supply of bitcoin. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in circulation. This hard cap on the supply makes bitcoin even more verifiably finite than gold. As this simple yet unique property of scarcity becomes more widely understood, the economic laws of supply and demand will create a global frenzy to acquire as much bitcoin as possible, before it’s too late. This momentum for acquiring bitcoin is already underway throughout the world and it is rapidly accelerating. In recent months, continued economic turmoil and uncertainty has created increased curiosity inbitcoin. Multiple institutional investors have announced sizable bitcoin allocations in their portfolios, some citing it as a hedge against a weakening U.S. dollar.

The Nigerian government, along with every other government in the world, has a once in a generation opportunity to claim global prominence by rising to the occasion. Many other politicians in Latin America have signalled their intention to pursue similar moves as El Salvador. In leading the next global financial shift, Nigeria can create prosperity for its citizens in a manner that requires no bloodshed, no election and no resistance. Such a proposition may seem too good to be true, and these ambitions certainly require thorough investigation, scrutiny and debate. Conversely, a delay in pursuing a national plan for bitcoin adoption will risk a scenario where Nigeria is left behind and its citizens excluded from the possibility of significant wealth creation and preservation. As world leaders become more aware of the chance to make history, pursuit of bitcoin will be widespread. We offer our full support, a willingness to voluntarily consult and commitment to activate every resource available to us in order to see Nigeria pursue a Bitcoin standard.

Nigeria must never carry last,

Russell Okung

Published in Business and Economy

DAKAR, Senegal — Nigeria has blocked Twitter after the social media site deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened secessionist groups in the southeast of the country who had been responsible for attacks on government offices.

The government suspended Twitter, which is used by millions of Nigerians, on Friday night, after a government official called the microblogging platform’s presence in Nigeria “very, very suspect.”

The ministry of information posted the announcement of Twitter’s suspension — on Twitter.

Twitter users in Nigeria expressed outrage at the blocking of one of the main outlets that they have to criticize their government and try to hold it to account. Many circumvented the suspension by using virtual private networks to access the service, raising questions of how effective the ban will be.

In the tweet deleted by Twitter on Wednesday, Mr. Buhari drew a connection between Nigeria’s civil war decades ago and attacks on offices of the national electoral commission by arsonists and gunmen.

Most of the attacks have been in the southeast, which declared itself the Republic of Biafra in the 1960s and fought a devastating war for secession. Mr. Buhari, who has 4.1 million followers on Twitter, was a commander on the side of the Nigerian government during the war.

“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War,” he wrote in the now-deleted post. Those “who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

Some saw his words as a threat of genocide against the Igbo ethnic group that is in the majority in Nigeria’s southeast. Twitter said the tweet violated its “abusive behavior” policy.

Mr. Buhari came to office in 2015 in the country’s first peaceful transition of power between two parties, but his previous stint ruling Nigeria was as a young general in the 1980s after he took power in a coup. Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has undergone many decades of repressive military rule.

Nigerian Twitter users have played an outsize role in trying to hold their government to account. The platform was one of the key forms of communication and publicity for protesters in EndSARS, a youth-driven movement that began with calls to abolish an abusive police unit and which led to much wider demands for better governance in West Africa’s biggest democracy.

In a news conference after Mr. Buhari’s tweet was deleted, the information minister, Lai Mohammed, compared Twitter’s actions in Nigeria to those the company took after the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, including banning the account of former President Donald J. Trump.

“When people were burning police stations and killing policemen in Nigeria during EndSARS, for Twitter it was about the right to protest,” he said. “But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol, it became insurrection.”

The reason for blocking Twitter, Mr. Mohammed said later, was “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

In April, Twitter said that it was opening its first Africa office in Ghana, because the country was “a supporter of free speech, online freedom” and an open internet. Some analysts considered the move a snub for Nigeria, which is home to a thriving tech industry.

Shutdowns of the internet or social media are increasingly used by governments around the world, particularly in election periods. Countries that have censored Twitter include China and Iran.

Twitter worked on some cellphone carriers and not others on Saturday, according to tests conducted by Reuters in Lagos and Abuja.

Facebook and WhatsApp are the social networks used by most Nigerians, but the country’s intellectuals, activists and journalists tend to gravitate toward Twitter — and many were able to keep tweeting after the ban.

“Thank God for VPN” was trending on Twitter in Nigeria on Saturday, and many Nigerians took to the platform to comment that Africa’s biggest democracy was showing worrying signs of dictatorship in suppressing the right to free speech.

“Suspending Twitter in Nigeria is just one more way of stating that people’s rights do not matter,” Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s country director in Nigeria, said in a tweet. “This is a dangerous precedent.”

“We must resist every attempt at a dictatorship,” wrote Editi Effiong, a journalist who covered EndSARS.

“The last move of a failing Government is always to try to silence everyone who points out that they are failing,” posted Mark Essien, a Nigerian entrepreneur and software developer.

Even some government officials continued tweeting.

“You didn’t get the memo!” one Nigerian Twitter user tweeted at Sharon Ikeazor, minister of state for the environment, after she posted a tweet about an event on plastic pollution on Saturday morning.

Published in News & Stories

By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja; Alao Abiodun; Tony Akowe; Gbade Ogunwale/ THE NATION

  • Site sanctioned for spreading misinformation, fake news – Presidency

  • Canada, EU, UK, US, others kick over ban

  • Twitter defiant, vows to help Nigerians access platform

  • Malami orders arrest, prosecution of users of site

  • NPAN, NGE, IPI, others demand reversal of suspension

President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and 98 other individual Nigerians and organisations may lose 160,289,500 followers on account of Federal Government’s ban on Twitter, according to figures obtained on Saturday.

But the organisation appeared unperturbed by the ban, offering to help its Nigeria-based users to bypass the ban.

It said it had commenced efforts to restore access to its platform for Nigerians following the blocking of access to it by telecommunication companies in the country.

Many Nigerians immediately sought an alternative route via Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Downloading the VPN app appeared difficult on Saturday.

Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami warned that violators of the ban would be prosecuted, even as more condemnations trailed the Twitter suspension.

The United States yesterday told the Federal Government that its suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria is capable of sending wrong signals to investors and businesses.

The Presidency, in its first comment on the temporary ban last night, dismissed suggestions that it was in response to the social media’s recent deletion of Buhari’s tweets.

According to Rosbena.com, Buhari with 3 million followers and Osinbajo with 2.6 million rank among the 100 leading crowd pullers on Twitter.

The others include ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote; ace Musician David Adedeji Adeleke (Davido); a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Temi Otedola; another highly rated musician, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun (Wizkid) and the winner of Grammy’s Best Global Music Award, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy).

The suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria may also deny some Nigerians and institutions robust following.

These include the Presidency, the Nigeria Police Force, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Army, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; Pastor Sam Adeyemi; a former Vice President of the World Bank Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; Sen. Dino Melaye; Sen. Shehu Sani and Femi Fani-Kayode.

According to investigation by Rosbena.com, the identified 100 top Nigerians have dominated Twitter in the country.

The link says: “Rosbena compiles the list of most followed Nigerian accounts on Twitter.

“Unlike the most followed Nigerian accounts on Instagram which comprise mostly musicians and actresses, the list of most followed Nigerian Twitter accounts comprises mainly musicians, politicians, radio stations, newspapers and banks.

The breakdown of some of the 100 ranked accounts and their followers is as follows: President Muhammadu Buhari (3m); Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (2.6m); Bukola Saraki (2m); Davido (6.8m); Aliko Dangote (880,200); Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid (6.3m); Don Jazzy (4.5m); Tiwa Savage (3.9m); Channels Television (3.7m); Burna Boy (3.2m); Dapo Oyebanjo aka D’Banj (3.1m); Olamide Gbenga Adedeji aka Olamide (3.1m); Banky W. Banky (2.9m); Peter P-Square (2.5m); Ice Prince Zamani (2.4m); Ali Baba (858,600); and Genevieve Nnaji (2.1m).

Others are musician Simi (2.1m); Wande Coal (1.9m); Comedian Basketmouth (1.9m); Blogger Linda Ikeji (1.9m); Governor Nasir el-Rufai(1.7m); Presidency of Nigeria (1.7m); Tony Elumelu (1m); Sen. Dino Melaye (1.6m); INEC (1.5m); D.J. Cuppy (1.5m); Nigeria Police Force (1.2m); EFCC (904,300); Temi Otedola (1.2m) Sen. Shehu Sani (1.2m); Pastor Enoch Adeboye (1.1m); WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (1.1m); Oby Ezekwesili (1m); Funke Akindele (1m); the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu (978,300); and a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (956,200).

Presidency: Suspension in response to long-observed misdemeanours

The Presidency said the Twitter ban is temporary but denied suggestions that it was as a result of the platform’s deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets.

It said rather it was in response to Twitter’s long-observed misdemeanours, including misinformation and spread of fake news, which it said had led to violent ends.

“The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post.

“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.

“All the while, the company has escaped accountability,” the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said.

He admitted that although the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing, “the censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.”

Continuing, he said: “The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2019 said ‘the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.’

“This and similar crimes, which have been fueled by social media networks, risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.

“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.

“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences, and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full,” the statement said.

Reacting to the narrative that President Buhari’s comments in the deleted tweets were genocidal in nature or a threat to citizens, the Presidency said it was rather a statement of fact about situations witnessed during the Nigerian civil war, adding that it was rather an assurance that rights of Nigerians would be preserved.

It, however, noted that government would not fold its arms when the activities of IPOB, which it insists is a proscribed terror organisation, continue to put pressure on the peace and security of the country; a situation it said Twitter had refused to take notice of.

“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.

“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand’, he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.

“This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire.

“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a reoccurrence of that tragedy.”

Aisha Buhari deactivates Twitter account

Moments after the announcement of the ban on Twitter operations on Friday, First Lady Aisha Buhari deactivated her Twitter account.

She said: “I will be deactivating my twitter account for now. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

How telecoms firms stopped Twitter operations

Twitter operations went dead across the country at about midnight after receiving a formal directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The main telecoms industry body, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said it had “conducted a robust assessment of the directive in accordance with internationally accepted principles.”

It said: “Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, and with the licence terms under which the industry operates, our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator.

It promised to “continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.”

It said it remains “committed to supporting the government of the Federal republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by the people offline must also be protected online.

“This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communication.”

The statement was signed by ALTON chairman Gbenga Adebayo and its Executive Secretary Gbolahan Awonuga.

We’ll help Nigerians bypass ban, says Twitter

Twitter itself appeared unperturbed by the development yesterday, saying it had commenced efforts to restore access to its platform for Nigerians.

“We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society,” it said in a statement posted on its Public Policy handle.

It added: “We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world.”

Nigeria had about 33 million active social media users as at January 2021 with WhatsApp as the most popular platform.

It has over 90 million users according to Statista.

It is followed by Facebook which has 86.2 per cent, YouTube with 81.6 per cent, Instagram with 73.1 per cent, Faceboo Messenger with 67.2 per cent and Twitter with 61.4 per cent.

Nigerians switch to VPN

Many Nigerians did not waste time to seek alternative ways of accessing Twitter.

While some shifted to Virtual Private Network (VPN) for the purpose of bypassing the restrictions, some others were struggling last night to download the app to find their way around the ban.

The virtual private network enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

It also makes it appear as if the user is accessing the internet from another country, and has been a way to get round similar bans in other countries.

The term VPN became popular overnight, according to the search tracking site Trendsmap.

AGF Malami orders arrest, prosecution of Nigerians still using Twitter

Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday issued a directive for the prosecution of violators of the ban on Twitter.

He directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to “swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”

He asked the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Commission (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to “ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay,” his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said in a statement.

PDP daubs Malami’s order illegal, null and void

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called the Malami directive blatantly unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The party said the directive was not only downright ludicrous but shows the frenzied desperation by the Buhari Presidency to muzzle, victimise, clamp down on innocent Nigerians and foist a totalitarian system on the country.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “For Malami’s information, section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that ‘a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefore is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a law of a state, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of the law.’

“President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC are informed that there is no extant law that defined the use of Twitter as a criminal offence and there is no penalty prescribed in a written law for the use of Twitter by any Nigerians.

“Moreover, they should also realise that the suspension of Twitter by the APC Federal Government, in addition to its unconstitutionality, only suspended Twitter operations and not the use of Twitter by Nigerians.

“The directive by the Attorney General to arrest and prosecute any Nigerians found using Twitter does not have the backing of any law enacted by the National Assembly or any state legislative house, and as such, Malami’s declaration is completely of no legal consequence.

“Malami’s directive to arrest and prosecute Nigerians using Twitter is therefore an attempt to suspend the 1999 Constitution (as amended); a development which bears the imprints of the leaked memo in which Mr. President was reportedly advised to suspend the constitution and strip Nigerians of their rights and freedom.”

Canada, EU, UK, US, others kick over ban

The diplomatic missions of Canada,the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria),Republic of Ireland,Norway,the United Kingdom and the USA yesterday expressed disappointment over the Twitter ban in Nigeria.

They also flayed the plan to register other social media.

They said in a statement that they “strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline.”

They added: “Banning systems of expression is not the answer.

“These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions,as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more ,not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity,peace and prosperity

“As Nigeria’s partners,we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.

US to FG: Ban sends wrong signals to investors

The United States told the federal government yesterday that the Twitter ban is capable of sending wrong signals to investors about the country.

“Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The Government’s recent #Twitterban undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive, and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms. As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater.

“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication, alongside concerted efforts toward unity, peace, and prosperity.”

Makinde: Twitter is a source of livelihood for youths

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State joined in appealing to the federal government to reconsider the ban on Twitter.

He described Twitter as a source of livelihood for many Nigerian youths.

“We should also remember that Twitter has gone beyond a source of communication for many of our hardworking youths in Nigeria,” he said in a statement.

He added: “It has become a source of livelihood for many, irrespective of their political affiliations or religious leanings.

“Nigerian youths and digital communications organisations earn a living from being able to use the platform to post communications on behalf of their clients.

“Others who may not have physical stores also rely on Twitter to give visibility to their products and services.

“As leaders, we should go beyond emotional reactions to issues and think about how our actions will affect the people we lead and our international ratings socially and economically.

“Twitter has become the platform for young people and indeed all Nigerians to exercise their fundamental right to express and publish an opinion.

“They use the platform to complain, argue and give feedback to government and its agencies who in turn, use these to improve policies.”

NPAN: Backtrack from Twitter ban

The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) called for reversal of the ban on Twitter.

Nigeria, it said in a statement, “retaliated with the cudgel against Twitter for alleged double standard in a hasty sanctioning of Buhari while pampering an unrestrained Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” who it said “has used same Twitter not just for serial hate speeches but for actually provoking and justifying violence in his separatist agitations.”

It added: “To the extent that Twitter may have been hasty in sanctioning President Buhari and shown an uneven application of its rules against separatist Kanu, its sincerity stands questioned. It should correct itself.

“However, The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) thinks that the suspension of Twitters operation by Nigeria is wrong and an overreaction.

“The action would not win us friends as closure of public space limits public discourse and democratic advancement.

“It is a futile exercise in any case, as other platforms are more likely to suspect Nigeria’s intentions towards democratic tenets and act adversarially towards Nigeria.

“Twitter is a global platform for public communication that has expanded the frontiers of Free Speech and Press Freedom. It is a platform for business that has brought relief to Nigeria’s youthful population who have prospered by its operation.

“The NPAN believes Twitter as a business is not infallible and can be influenced through high level engagement, to be a more responsive, liberal platform of public good and not a cynical champion of suspicious causes.

“There should be a compromise: Nigeria needs friends and not enemies at this critical juncture of her existence. She should not play into the hands of the enemies who are relentless is seeking to destroy and ostracise her.

“Banning Twitter is regressive and should be rescinded in favour of dialogue.”

Editors urge FG to rescind ban

In a similar statement, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) asked the federal government to immediately rescind the suspension of Twitter operations and seek other legitimate means of resolving its dispute with the company.

President of the guild, Mustapha Isah, and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, said the federal government’s action had the unintended consequence of jeopardising the economic interests of many Nigerians who rely on the social media platform for vital information to make informed business decisions daily.

Their words: “The suspension is a grave breach of Nigeria’s international obligations under article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Guild sees the federal government’s action as an overreaction to Twitter’s decision to delete President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet early this week.

“If the federal government finds Twitter’s action against the President objectionable, Nigerians should not be made to suffer the collateral damage of denying them their right to freely discourse on Twitter.”

It described the ban as an over-kill after Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed had initially “condemned the deletion of President Buhari’s view as an unacceptable tab on the president’s right.”

It said while the federal government has a responsibility to safeguard the unity, peace and stability of Nigeria, it ought to exercise restraint in expressing its anger.

Reverse suspension, says IPI

Similar sentiments were expressed by the International Press Institute ( IPI) .

It said the action of the federal government was detrimental to the free press in Nigeria which uses twitter as a major platform.

But it also told Twitter and other social media outfits to “pay greater attention to the content they promote on their platforms which violate their own rules,” and appealed to government to “reverse the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria and engage in meaningful dialogue with the social media outfit on issues of concern to the government.”

FG is right, says APC; asks Nigerians to develop alternative app

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) hailed the federal government for the ban on Twitter, which it accused of operating “in a trajectory that is a direct threat to the country’s national security.”

National Secretary Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said in Abuja yesterday that Twitter “serially encouraged separatists, arsonists, and glorified terrorists by offering them the platform to spread their terror messages; a situation no responsible government will tolerate..”

The party urged Nigerians talented in software applications development to seize the opportunity of suspending the operations of Twitter in the country to develop a home-grown application that can equal or even be superior to the suspended foreign application in meeting the needs of Nigerians.

Nigeria, according to Akpanudoedehe, has talented citizens that could develop an alternative application to Twitter and “liberate the country and other developing countries from the shackles and shameful arrogance that frequently manifests in the way Twitter disdainfully promotes confusion and chaos in the name of freedom of expression.”

He added: “We at the APC firmly believe that Twitter’s suspension will undoubtedly serve as a positive trigger to unleash the creative potentials of Nigerians in the global digital space.

“This is a challenge to the vibrant youths with such talents.

“They will get support in the exercise from the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and its agencies as well as the numerous information and Communication Technology (ICT) training and research establishments in the country.

“The suspension serves Twitter right and warns other social media tools to toe the line of decency and show respect for their host countries.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria was right in suspending the operations of Twitter in the country for its role in promoting disaffection, derogating the country and its institutions as well allowing divisive elements bent on harming the country to use it as a channel to propagate and legitimise such destructive tendencies.”

Suspension provocative, obnoxious, says Reps Minority caucus

The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives called the Twitter suspension provocative, obnoxious and unjustifiable.

Its Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, said the decision of the government to suspend Twitter “smacks of intolerance, insensitivity and aversion to the views, opinions and aspirations of Nigerian citizens, especially the youths, on matters of state.”

According to him, the development is capable of leading to further restiveness among Nigerians and worsen the situation in the country.

“Moreover, this action of the Federal Government, coming at a time the National Assembly is conducting its public hearing towards the amendment of the constitution, may constitute a major setback capable of diminishing public confidence in the exercise as well as other processes genuine efforts by the legislature to strengthen democratic tenets in the country.”

Muzzling dissenting voices can only postpone the ‘evil day’ – Shehu Sani

To human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani, Nigerian leaders who are bent on muzzling dissenting voices will only succeed in postponing the evil day.

Sani, who spoke at a public event in Abuja yesterday, urged the federal government to adopt reconciliatory approach to dissenting individuals and groups, instead of seeking to suppress them.

Reacting to the ban on the microblogging giant, Twitter, the ex senator knocked the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration for romancing the social media while they were in the opposition but attacking same while in government.

According to him, the solution to Nigeria’s problems lies with Nigerians themselves, adding that “we do not have a Moses to take us to the promise land.”

Likening the ban on Twitter to taking Nigeria back to the Stone Age, Sani said it is wrong for political leaders to descend on the media simply because they consider their contents unpalatable to their government.

Twitter deletes Nnamdi Kanu’s post for ‘violating rules’

Twitter has deleted a post by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdu Kanu, for violating its rules.

The tweet appeared on Kanu’s handle on Wednesday, June 2 but had been pulled down last night.

In it, he had threatened death for soldiers sent to the Southeast by the federal government to stop the destruction there.

“Any army they send to #Biafraland will die there. None will return alive even if it means sacrificing my people,” he had boasted.

The deletion came 24 hours after the federal government suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

Published in Business and Economy

The killing of Ahmed Gulak, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, again by “unknown gunmen”, is a clear indication of the palpable state of insecurity in the country and a signal that no one, not the mighty nor the low, is safe anymore.

Reports of killings across the country have become a daily occurrence to the point where most incidents no longer make headlines. Even more troubling is the statement by the Police, about Gulak’s failure to travel with security escorts or notify the security agencies of his travel plans; again, an acknowledgement of the crass abnormality of insecurity that has befallen the nation.

This is another instance where Nigerians would be told they require the permission of security agencies to move freely within the country, as it would be recalled that following the killing of 43 farmers in Borno State, in November 2020, the presidency had criticized the farmers for visiting their farms without obtaining “clearance” from the security agencies. What then becomes of the average Nigerian that is unable to afford the luxury (now a necessity) of a police detail? With the sporadic attacks on police formations, particularly in the southeast, it has become obvious that the safety of even the security personnel is not guaranteed.

Although the Police have announced the arrest of some suspects allegedly involved in the dastardly act, the announcement should not signify an end to the investigation on the motivation of the perpetrators, particularly as the killers were speculated to be members of IPOB, the outlawed organisation that has since denied its involvement. The police need to show publicly and convincingly what makes the killers IPOB members; and whoever they are, they should be subjected to the full rigours of the law. The incident has further tilted the balance of the fragile peace on which the nation currently stands towards a precarious brink.

While a section of the public believes the killing to be politically motivated, as suggested by the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma in a press conference, others have been quick to advance the theory of the southeast and northern Nigerian discord, which has prompted the Arewa Consultative Forum to issue a travel advisory, dissuading Nigerians of the northern extraction from travelling to the South-East. This is an unhealthy development that can be redressed only by bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Gulak’s murder is highly condemnable whatever may be the motive, as no Nigerian going about his lawful business deserves to be gunned down criminally for any reason whatsoever. His death should not add to the statistics of unresolved murder cases in the country, the list of which is endless, including the late Attorney General of the Federation, Bola Ige, National Vice-Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Marshall Harry, PDP Lagos State Governorship aspirant, Funsho Williams and others. These unresolved cases, particularly as they involve high political figures, continue to question the competence and or integrity of our security agencies. Nigerians need answers, and the sooner one is provided the better. It will be in assuaging the already frayed nerves of many Nigerians who have become highly disillusioned by the dismal low value to which the Nigerian life has been reduced.

More importantly, Nigerians need their government to rise to the occasion and, as expected of any government deserving of the name, address the spate of insecurity across the nation. Nigeria is on the brink of a descent into a state of anarchy and the government is already late, but not too late, in taking the right measures to address the situation. The people have had enough of the talking without acting.

Stakeholders are all in agreement that the current security architecture has failed to address the nation’s security challenges and have propounded the decentralization of the Police Force to better aid community policing. Granted that the constitutional review process is on its way, Nigerians are worried about the true intent of the political elite who from experience have only stood to serve its own selfish interest at the expense of the common man. It is in the interest of the country that the exercise will not become unduly politicized to the extent of losing its true aims and objectives.

The international community is watching and the country’s leadership needs to demonstrate that it can secure the lives and property of citizens, and that government is capable of handling the country’s domestic issues as they arise. Security agencies have been the centre of focus for a while now and this is an opportunity for them to redeem an already battered image by employing international best practices in unravelling some of these matters. At a time like this when the country’s economy is tottering on all fronts, government more than ever needs to assure foreign investors of the safety of their lives and investment.

While Nigerians have not had the best of services from its security agencies, they must however realise that security is the job of every citizen, and as such, all must work to assist the security agencies, given their limited resources. People should promptly report all criminal elements in their midst to the relevant security agencies for appropriate action.

Published in Parliament
By Precious Igbonwelundu/ THE NATION

Prophet Temitope Joshua, founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) was conducting a church service when he suddenly felt uncomfortable, The Nation has learnt.

The popular prophet, sources said, passed away around 2am, hours after he walked to his apartment midway into the service, presumably to get some rest.

Born on June 12, 1963, Prophet TB Joshua died six days to his 58th birthday.

It was gathered that Joshua had walked out of the church to his apartment when he felt uncomfortable during the service that commenced around 6pm on Saturday.

Although it was not clear at what point he left the hall, The Nation learnt he had officiated the service for some hours before he stepped out.

His aides and members, it was gathered, thought he was going for a quick break but became anxious when he didn’t return after a long time.

The Nation gathered that when he did not return, his aides went to check on him but found him in an uncomfortable/unusual position.

A former aide and close family friend of the late cleric told The Nation close relatives and friends were protecting and consoling his wife.

Although the cause of death was not disclosed, the source said the entire place is to be “sanitised”.

According to him, the prophet had asked most of his aides to work from home as a because of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those who were left with him were mostly some Britons, a few personal aides, who lived in the premises.

“I got a call around 2am that Senior Prophet was dead. I had to quickly get in touch with his family and it was confirmed.

” We do not really have details now but I can tell you he was ministering when he suddenly took ill and left the church to rest,” he said.

Confirming Joshua’s death, Lagos Police Commissioner (CP) Hakeem Odumosu said he was officially pronounced dead by a hospital around 3am.

Odomuso said: “It is true he is dead. I do not know the cause of his death yet. But the information we have is that he was conducting service, along the line, he felt uncomfortable, walked to his apartment himself and never came back.

“His people thought he probably wanted to rest or refresh but when they didn’t see him after a long while, they went in search of him and found him in an unusual position.

“The service started in the evening. But it was around 3am that he was pronounced dead by a hospital.”

The church said Joshua’s last words to his members were “watch and pray.”

He was said to have also reminded them there was time for everything before he left the church hall.

Published in Headliners

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