Digital advocacy rights and social enterprise organization Paradigm Initiative has expressed concern over the Nigerian militarys approach to monitoring activities of Nigerians online.
This was brought about by comments that came out from the now discontinued Twitter handle @Defensemonitor.
This is in view of the statements the handle made in its tweet bothering on how they were going to go about monitoring Nigerians online for anti-government and hate speeches.
The Twitter handle is believed to be affiliated with the Nigerian Defence Headquarters, who have not come out to deny being responsible for the handle.
The Nigerian Presidential Office for Digital Communications through their Twitter handle @DigiCommsNG, however has come out to criticize the @DefenseMonitor handle, calling it fake.
The Vice President Yemi Osibajo earlier was in the news for stating that hate speeches will now be treated as acts of terrorism.
President Buhari also described comments leveled against him about his ill health on social media while he was away in London as disturbing.
The Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, while speaking recently during an Interview session on Channels television, stated 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 went further to state,“What are we doing? In the military, we are now taking on it more seriously than ever. We have our strategic media centres that monitor the social media to be able to sieve out and react to all the ones that will be anti-government, be anti-military, (and) be anti-security. We tackle them appropriately with appropriate responses. Ahead of that, we are also proactive. We have measures in place, scientific measures to be able to sieve this information and also to get the public and let them know that some of this information they are getting is not genuine and their objective is an anti-corporate existence of this country.”The Chief Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Gbenga Sesan has described the tweets as worrisome saying:“The statement made by the Director of Defence Information during the Channels television interview is worrisome. More troubling is the inability of the Defence Headquarters in following the Presidential Office for Digital Engagement in denouncing the tweets by @DefenseMonitor – tweets which essentially echo the sentiments of the Director of Defence Information. Merely disowning the twitter handle is not enough, the military must assure us by its words and actions that it does not share the sentiment expressed by the suspended twitter handle”Speaking further on this, the Director of Programmes of Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe, stated, “We urge for caution in light of this new development. While we await more information, the words of the Director of Defence Information and the sentiments echoed by the now denounced Twitter handle @DefenseMonitor are consistent with the experience of numerous Nigerians who have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression online. We maintain that the digital rights of Nigerians must be respected irrespective of any security measure implemented by the government”.
The agency further added that although they are in support of any effort taken to safeguard the security of Nigerians, they maintain that the effort must have a basis in the rule of law, having the appropriate legislative oversight.