The Partnership for Media and Democracy (PAMED) has urged the Nigerian federal government to desist from monitoring citizens’ social media use, condemning such surveillance as an infringement upon the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
“The action is a violation of the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and the privacy of their communications guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a party,” the organization said. “Such a move provides enormous opportunities for abuse of power and the violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Nigerians by the military.”
The group condemned the comments made by the Director of Defence Information, Major-General John Enenche, in which he said the move became necessary in order to prevent the spread of misinformation that could jeopardize Nigeria’s unity.
“The threat will undermine the right of the public to know about the activities of the government, including the security agencies, and will threaten the safety of media professionals, especially online journalists. It will also prevent the media from carrying out its obligation to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people,” PAMED explained.
PAMED, a coalition comprising of the International Press Centre (IPC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), demanded that the federal government and Nigerian Army authorities immediately withdraw the threat to monitor social media for alleged anti-government, anti-security and anti-military information, as it is antithetical to democratic principles and values.