US Berates Nigeria over Twitter Ban, as FG Defends Directive
The United States government on Saturday rebukes the Nigerian government over its decision to suspend the use of Twitter by Nigerians, saying such an action violates the provisions of the 1999 constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.
In a statement on Saturday, the US Mission in Nigeria said the Nigerian constitution provides for freedom of information, adding that the move undermines Nigeria’s ability to exercise this freedom and it sends a poor message to investors.
The statement read, “Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The government’s recent #Twitterban undermines Nigeria’s ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses.
“Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms. As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation and accountability has never been greater.
“The part to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less communication, alongside concerted efforts towards unity, peace and prosperity.”
The Federal Government had on Friday suspended Twitter indefinitely after the social media platform deleted a tweet by the president which was considered offensive by many Nigerians.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, accused Twitter of promoting disunity and undermining the nation’s security.
The regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has come under fire from several rights groups including Amnesty International for several acts of human rights abuse.
The presidency reacted on Saturday saying its decision to ban Twitter was not just about the tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), deleted by the microblogging platform.
Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement titled ‘Presidential statement on Twitter suspension in Nigeria’ that “The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post. There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.
“Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.
“The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said ‘the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.’
“This and similar crimes which have been fueled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.”
The statement added, “President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.
“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.
“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.
“When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand,’ he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.
“This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.
“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.
“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”
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