A legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye says the recent warning by the Department of State Services (DSS) on the usage of social media has serious implications on the freedom of expression as provided by Nigeria’s constitution.

Ogunye said this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

In reaction to the question, if the warning by DSS infringes on the free speech of social media users, he said the warning has serious implications.

“It has serious implications. Article 19 Provision and Section 39 of the constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech without hindrance and intimidation.

“So, when you see the government coming out to insist that certain speeches that are guaranteed by the freedom of expression are capable of stocking ethnic sentiments, ultimately this will have a restriction for the free exercise of those rights that are guaranteed by the law,” Ogunye said.

He added that he believes that although security agencies have the powers to effect arrests when inciting comments that may affect national security are made, security agencies should refrain from playing the role of a judge.

“They are not the ones to try. We have three arms of government. The judiciary is there. The duty they owe the constitution is that if they have grants to proceed, they can effect arrest within the ambits of the law and quickly charge to court.”

He advised that arbitrary arrests and detention should not be a guise to clampdown on dissenting views and opinions.

The DSS had on Wednesday in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Peter Afunaya warned against the use of social media to incite violence

The security agency says it will not condone any act that is capable of destabilising the country through the use of social media platforms.


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