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Group Condemns Military from Monitoring Nigerians on Social Media

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An advocacy group, the Partnership for Media and Democracy, has condemned the Nigerian military for its apparent monitoring of Nigerians on social media, calling on the federal government to restrain such activities.

Less than 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari hinted of social media animosity in his latest national broadcast, the Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, had told Channels Television that the military was now monitoring the activities of Nigerians on social media for hate speeches and anti-government rhetoric.

The move became necessary in the light of “troubling activities and misinformation capable of jeopardizing the unity of the country,” Enenche said.

But PAMED, which comprises the International Press Centre (IPC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), and the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), believes 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,” and that it would lead to “abuse of power” by the military.

PAMED, in its statement released in Lagos yesterday and signed by the Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of MRA, Mr. Edetaen Ojo and Executive Director of IMS, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, also noted that the move would undermine “the right of the public to know about the activities of the government including the security agencies which in a democracy are subordinate to civil authorities” and lead to the “non-guarantee of the safety of media professionals, especially online journalists and those covering the activities of the military.”

The advocacy group called on the military authorities to immediately rescind its decision and dismantle any media centres it might have established for such anti-democratic purposes. (THISDAY