Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF), Abubakar Malami, in an interview with Vanguard Newspaper, has denied threatening to prosecute Nigerians still using the microblogging site, Twitter, after the ban of the social media platform in Nigeria.
His denial comes days after being criticized for bypassing the federal government’s ban on Twitter. The AGF had made a post on Facebook, which showed he had allegedly bypassed the Twitter ban while announcing that his Twitter account had been deactivated.
Many Nigerians questioned how he was able to access his Twitter account to deactivate it on the 8th June 2021 after the ban of the social media platform in Nigeria a few days prior to that, on the 5th June 2021.
Malami was said to have issued the prosecution threat against Nigerians who were defying the Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter through a directive in a statement issued by Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, media aide to the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, on Saturday, 5th June 2021.
Gwandu said Malami directed the office of the Public Prosecution of the Federation (PPF) to prosecute violators of the ban.
The statement, according to Gwandu, in part read: “Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has ordered the prosecution of offenders of the federal government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria”.
According to the statement, “DPPF is to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”
The AGF, in his interview with Vanguard Newspaper, however made a turn, as he said “It is within their guaranteed fundamental right to tweet from anywhere in the world. Nigeria, being a democratic nation, cannot stop its citizens from exercising their rights of freedom of expression”.
Mr. Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, added, “But our position on Twitter is clear: Anyone, whether individual or corporate institution ‘that enables Twitter’ to circumvent the ban the Federal Government of Nigeria placed on the company, will be prosecuted.”
He added that the statement from his office did not ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter or any social media platform to express their view.
Story: Ene Ken-Yawe