The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the military to stop monitoring activities of Nigerians on the social media.
In an open letter written to the president, the group expressed concern over what it describes as a violation of the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and privacy online.
The letter follows a 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.
The group also noted that “monitoring Nigerians on social media would criminalize their freedom and the activity 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”.
SERAP insists that Nigerians should be allowed to discuss government policies and engage in political debates; report on corruption in government, and exercise their right to expression of opinion and dissent.
The group notes that protecting the expression of Nigerians on the internet is critical to the survival of democracy.
Some other requests contained in the statement signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale include that the President Buhari should defend and keep to his oft-repeated commitment to human rights, transparency and accountability.
This he is expected to do by: “Developing proactive and holistic policies that ensure that technology is used to increase both freedom and security of Nigerians and ensure that everyone benefits from digital technology and not criminalized and penalised for using it;
“Focusing on promoting an open, transparent and democratic dialogue, and protecting those at risk of being attacked for their opinions instead of monitoring or clamping down on freedom of expression and privacy online;
“Promoting, encouraging and facilitating access to the internet, in particula, social media, and other information and communication technology, as basic tools for Nigerians to express themselves and participate in their own government,”