The United States has again said the Twitter ban in Nigeria has no democratic representation, noting that the government’s action stifles rights to free expression.
“Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” Ned Price, the spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement on Thursday June 10, 2021, ahead of Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebration.
He said while the US government supports Nigeria’s quest for unity and peace, Nigerian government must also respect the citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing the suspension of Twitter operations in the country.
The suspension followed tensions between the social media giant and the Nigerian government and peaked when it deleted a controversial statement by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, which was deemed genocidal.
In the deleted tweet, President Buhari had said his government would deal with suspected separatists attacking government institutions and security formations in “the language they understand,” citing his role as Brigadier-General in the 1967 civil war that claimed two million lives including the breakaway Biafra citizens.
The government accused Twitter of double standards for deleting the President’s tweet while tolerating violent comments by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group calling for independence of the southeast region.
It also blamed the social media company for supporting the #EndSARS movement that demanded an end to police brutality in the country, saying the platform was used to turn citizens against the government.
Despite widespread criticism from the international community, Nigerian government ordered the arrest and prosecution of Nigerians who use Twitter.
The country’s National Broadcasting Commission directed all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.
Twitter had said it was deeply concerned by the government’s violations of fundamental human rights of its citizens.
However, the Nigerian government has insisted that Twitter alongside other social media platforms must register locally for it to end the ban.
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