Bashir Ahmad, the Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, has been active on the micro-blogging platform, Twitter despite the ban placed on the app by the Nigerian government.
Though his last tweet was on June 4, the day the Buhari-led government announced the ban on Twitter, a check by SaharaReporters on Ahmad’s account showed that he liked a picture posted by the National Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Committee, Ismaeel Buba Ahmed on November 12.
Ismaeel is also the Senior Special Assistant on National Social Investment Programme to the President.
The Personal Assistant to the President on New Media also liked a tweet from one Haramain Sharifain (@hsharifain) about Buhari’s visit to Masjid Al Nabawi, Madinah, Saudi Arabia on October 28 and another one by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia on September 11.
Ahmad before the ban was vocal on Twitter but now spends more time and energy on Facebook.
On June 5, a day after the ban, he posted on Facebook, “This is exactly the language they clearly understand,” to taunt the Nigerian Twitter community.
However, the post attracted hundreds of comments in less than an hour, with many Nigerians lambasting Ahmad and his principal, Buhari for “undemocratic practices”.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) had given orders to the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to “swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government de-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”
The AGF’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, had in a statement on June 05 titled ‘Twitter ban: Malami orders prosecution of offenders,’ said, “Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has directed immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
“Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“Malami directed the DPPF to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communications Commission and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”
Malami later denied threatening to prosecute Nigerians still tweeting on the microblogging site.
Malami made the U-turn in an interview with Vanguard newspaper.
“It is within their guaranteed fundamental right to tweet from anywhere in the world. Nigeria, being a democratic nation, cannot stop its citizens from exercising their rights of freedom of expression,” he had said.
“But our position on Twitter is clear: Anyone, whether individual or corporate institution ‘that enables Twitter’ to circumvent the ban the Federal Government of Nigeria placed on the company, will be prosecuted.”
He denied his office asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter.