Nigerian telecom operators on Friday indefinitely blocked people’s access to Twitter in accordance with a government directive. The diplomatic missions of the European Union, the US, Britain, Canada and Ireland issued a joint statement late Saturday condemning the ban.
In this statement, he said, “Banning the system of expression is not the solution. Especially at a time when Nigeria needs to promote inclusive dialogue and expression of ideas as well as critical in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Information needs to be shared.”
He added, “For Nigerians the idea of greater security is rooted not in less but in more communication.”
According to NOI, a public opinion and research organization based in Nigeria, more than 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account.
The platform has played an important role in public discourse in the country with the hashtag #BringBackourGirls following the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in 2014 and the hashtag #EndSARS during anti-police vandalism protests last year.
The government issued a suspension order on Wednesday after Twitter deleted the tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account. But the government’s suspension came after a comment was removed. In this tweet, he referred to the country’s civil war four decades ago, warning about the recent unrest.
The 78-year-old president, who is also a former general, referred to “abusers” in recent violence in the southeast, where officials blame the IPOB, a banned separatist group, for attacks on police and election offices.
“Those of us who have been in the field for 30 months and have gone through war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the president posted on Twitter.
The Presidency denied late Saturday that Twitter’s suspension was a reaction to the removal of that post.
“There are a number of problems with social media platforms in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had violent real-world consequences,” Presidency spokesperson Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Shehu said the removal of Buhari’s tweet was “disappointing” and added that “major tech companies must abide by their responsibilities.”
Twitter said it was “very concerned about the Twitter block in Nigeria.”
“Access to free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society. We will work to restore access to all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world,” the company said in a statement. #KeepitOn”
‘VPN app’ was the second most searched trend on Google in Nigeria on Saturday, a virtual private network (VPN) that allows users to bypass any restrictions. That’s why Twitter users searched for a VPN app to circumvent this restriction. Nigeria, however, warned that it would prosecute violators.
“The Federation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami has directed the immediate prosecution of the perpetrators of the federal government’s ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria,” spokesman Omar Jibrilu Gawandu said.
Amnesty International also condemned the ban and called on Nigeria to immediately withdraw the illegal suspension.
“This repressive action is a clear attempt to censor dissent and suppress civil space,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Annie Evans.