Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
The Nigerian government on Friday announced that it had suspended Twitter’s operations in the country indefinitely.
The Nigerian minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed released a statement on twitter, blaming the suspension on the use of the platform to undermine Nigeria’s existence.
“The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria,” said Segun Adeyemi, the Special Assistant To The President on Media.
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Nigerian activists condemned the move, and called on the government to rescind the suspension immediately.
Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) condemned the “illegal and unconstitutional suspension of Twitter’s Operations in Nigeria,” and called on “the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind the suspension within 48 hours or face legal action.”
In a statement, SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said, “The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is a blatant violation of Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. The suspension has the character of collective punishment and is contrary to Nigeria’s international obligations. President Buhari must immediately rescind this unconstitutional suspension. We will see in court if the suspension is not rescinded within 48 hours.”
Oluwadare added: “Suspending Twitter in Nigeria would deny Nigerians’ access to information, and disrupt the free exchange of ideas and the ability of individuals to connect with one another and associate peacefully on matters of shared concern. It would also seriously undermine the ability of Nigerians to promote transparency and accountability in the country, and to participate in their own government.”
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to guarantee the constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights of Nigerians including online. Deletion of President Buhari’s tweets should never be used as a pretext to suppress the civic space and undermine Nigerians’ fundamental human rights.”
This is a developing story that will be updated.