Why SERAP Wants Buhari To End Social Media Monitoring
Military authorities are monitoring activities of Nigerians on the social media but not very many citizens know about this.
A rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), is aware and it wants President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the monitoring.
It is putting forward reasons the monitoring of social media use is out of place.
In a letter to President Buhari, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, stressed the need for the military to “comply with Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and the country’s obligations under international human rights law.
“Any monitoring of Nigerians on social media by the military authorities would directly violate the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and privacy online.
“Instructing the military to end any such monitoring would help your government to defend and keep to its oft-repeated commitment to human rights, transparency and accountability”.
SERAP believes that “monitoring of the social media by the military is neither necessary nor proportionate, and could portray current administration as working to control the political and social media space.
“Classifying legitimate exercise of freedom of expression as ‘hate speech’ is counter-productive, in exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and privacy, Nigerians should be allowed to speak truth to power and stand up for their rights”.
The rights group highlighted that monitoring social media use would affect the activities of journalists that are critical of the government and censor the media from reporting on sensitive and critical information that is relevant to the public interest but controversial to the government.
“It would have a chilling effect on media activities in Nigeria, and pose a serious threat to the ability of Nigerians to meaningfully participate in their own government,” it warned.
The organisation’s letter followed reported statement by the Director of Defence Information, Major-General John Enenche, that the activities of Nigerians on the social media are now being monitored for hate speech, anti-government and anti-security information by the military.
He justified the decision on the alleged grounds of “troubling activities and misinformation capable of jeopardising the unity of the country".