The Nigerian government’s recent Twitter ban undermines freedom of expression and sends a poor message to citizens and investors, the U.S. government has said.
In a statement posted on its Twitter handle, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria advised the Nigerian government to consider a different path to secure Nigeria.
The U.S. added that the government’s ban of Twitter portrays Nigeria in bad light before its citizens, potential investors and business owners.
It noted that by banning the platform, the Nigerian government was stifling the voices of its citizens and undermining their rights to freedom of expression.
— U.S. Mission Nigeria (@USinNigeria) June 5, 2021
“Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The Government’s recent #TwitterBan undermines Nigeriansʼ ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses,” the statement read.
“Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive, and impart information undermines fundamental freedems.
“As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater. The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less communication, alongside concerted efforts toward unity, peace, and prosperity.”
The Nigerian government suspended Twitter’s activities in the country on Friday after the social media giant deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which it deemed as inciting violence.
Activists said the crackdown was undemocratic, but the Nigerian government said it was to protect the corporate existence of the country.
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said violators of the ban who continue to use Twitter will be charged to court.
Asked under which law potential violators, will be charged, the minister said they will know when they get to court.
Opposition leaders, the Nigerian Bar Association and diplomats have criticised the government for the ban and some rights groups have threatened to press charges.
The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, said in a tweet that “All Nigerians have the right to freedom of speech and the responsibility not to misuse that right. Any action taken by (the) Government must be measured, proportionate and not (suppress) basic freedoms.”
Her counterpart at High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, Nicolas Simard, also said “Freedom of speech, used responsibly online and off line, and access to reliable information are fundamental human rights protected by #Nigeria’s constitution and a cornerstone of democratic life around the world.”
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