Freedom of Expression and National Security: A Human Rights Analysis of the Nigerian Democratic State

Uwazuruike, Allwell Raphael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3746-9254 (2023) Freedom of Expression and National Security: A Human Rights Analysis of the Nigerian Democratic State. In: Military-Media relations in Postcolonial Nigeria: Clashes, Ethics, and Prospects. Ethics International Press. ISBN 978-1-80441-247-3

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In June 2021, the Nigerian government banned the social media platform Twitter citing, amongst other reasons, the use of the platform by elements seeking to undermine the security and territorial integrity of the country (Princewill & Busari, 2021). Nigeria became only one of nine countries including China, Iran, and North Korea to have towed this path (Udebunam & Yusuf, 2021). Indeed, Nigeria’s Twitter ban was not an isolated event in the context of the freedom of expression. In 2019 the government had pushed through bills on hate speech and social media to the Senate. The bills sought to regulate the use of social media and imposed penalties ranging from imprisonment to death.

This chapter analyses the substance of the right of freedom of expression in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, especially in the light of the Twitter ban, juxtaposing it with interpretations from regional and international jurisdictions, such as the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights. It argues that the enjoyment of this freedom, though qualified, is threatened by the Nigerian state’s questionable approach to national security. The chapter begins by examining the qualified nature of the right, both in the Nigerian constitution and other international human rights treaties. It then proceeds to examine the Nigerian government’s approach to restricting this right and whether such restrictions are permissible under national and international law.

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