An online news platform, Peoples Gazette, said on Wednesday that a vast majority of its web readers were denied access to its contents owing to a disruption influenced by the government.
The platform, launched in 2020, has been critical of the government’s actions and policies, including its coverage of the #EndSARS protest staged in October and the aftermath of the protest.
In a statement issued by its manager editor, Samuel Ogundipe, on Wednesday, the media organisation alleged that the disruption, which started on Tuesday evening, was based on a directive from the Nigerian government to MTN, Glo Mobile and other telecom firms.
Mr Ogundipe said the directive was aimed at blacklisting the organisation’s web address as well as all other alternative domain names.
“Our internal assessments and notes from our readers indicate a total restriction on our website for people connecting via MTN, Glo Mobile and Airtel, i.e.: a vast majority of Nigerian Internet users.”
“Since our inception, we have diligently carried out our sole duty of bringing to public awareness, the rot that exists in our public and private institutions. We have exposed the abuse of power by government officials, agencies, and cronies; corrupt practices in the public and private sectors and flagrant abuse of human rights and the rule of law by security agencies.”
“Despite intimidation, threats, harassment and offers of jaw-dropping financial and material inducement from powerful people in and out of government, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to the truth, with courage and nothing else.”
“These new tactics that strive to screen Nigerians off independent and truthful journalism are a dagger in the relics of press freedom – another despotic turn in Nigeria’s descent into full-blown dictatorship under Muhammadu Buhari.”
At about 19:00 hrs local time on January 26, 2021, Peoples Gazette's website (https://t.co/wkUFy0ZN63) was hit by a coordinated disruption of service across all telecommunication networks in Nigeria. pic.twitter.com/mSOVfLGFtf
— Peoples Gazette (@GazetteNGR) January 27, 2021
He noted that the technical support staff members have made various efforts to create alternative channels to accessing Peoples Gazette’s content but the efforts have been consistently thwarted by the telecom firms.
Mr Ogundipe said the organisation was in touch with some telecoms firms’ executives to resolve the disruption.
In the interim, he advised internet users to consider the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass prevailing censorship in the meantime.
“All our stories will also be replicated on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GazetteNGR. We also encourage our readers to create or replicate their own digital solidarity platforms for sharing stories by Peoples Gazette,” he added.
None of the telecommunications firms involved has responded to the claims of Peoples Gazette as of press time.
Also, the spokesperson of the Nigerian agency that regulates the mobile networks, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde, has yet to respond to calls put across to him by our correspondent.
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