Nigerian senator warns against social media clampdown

Defense Ministry has said military was monitoring social media for comments misleading public about army or government


LAGOS(AA)-A Nigerian senator has criticized attempts by local security agencies to monitor social media, fearing this could make the country a police state.

“When security agencies monitor postings on social media, then we are now in a ‘Big Brother state’”, Shehu Sani, a senator and former civil rights activist, said in a tweet early Thursday, hours after the army was quoted as saying it was tracking posts on the social media to ensure that there was no abuse of free speech

Sani told Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview that he conceded there were “excesses” in the use of the social media but he warned against unwholesome clampdown on free speech and citizens’ rights.

The senator’s remarks come a day after spokesman for the Nigerian Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. John Enenche said the military was monitoring social media to “sieve” through comments misleading the public about the army or the government.

Enenche said such misleading comments and posts were common.

In a national broadcast on Monday, Buhari said certain posts on social media had “cross[ed] the national red lines” and said the government would not tolerate anything that threatens the country’s unity

The government has said hate speech would now attract the same penalties as terrorism, warning citizens against a replay of the Rwandan experience in Africa’s most populous country with a propensity for ethno-religious crises.

Critics have understood Buhari’s comment to imply an attempt to clamp down on social media.