Twitter: Again, US Asks FG To Respect Citizens’ Freedom Of Expression Right By Reversing Suspension
US Department of State has asked Federal Government of Nigeria to reverse its decision to indefinitely suspend Twitter in Nigeria, saying restricting the use of social media has no place in a democratic government.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, made this known to Buhari in a statement signed by his spokesman, Ned Price.
The statement was entitled ‘Nigeria’s Twitter Suspension’, and the US condemned the indefinite ban on Twitter by the Buhari government.
It would be recalled that Buhari administration banned Twitter in Nigeria, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
The move was carried out two days after Twitter took down President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet which it said violated its rules.
Earlier, envoys of United States, United Kingdom and European Union in Nigeria among others, insisted that Federal Government’s suspension of Twitter, is a violation of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.
The envoys who met with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja on Monday, urged the government to protect freedom of expression.
US ambassador to Nigeria, Mary-Beth Leonards, who spoke on behalf of others said they were delighted to see Nigeria succeed, and that all challenges have solutions.
In latest development, US state department has now said that while it supports Nigeria’s quest for unity and peace, the country must also respect the right to free speech.
In a statement on Thursday, the US government said;
The United States condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter. The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.
Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy. Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.
We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension.
With the ban, Nigeria joined North Korea, Iran, China and Turkmenistan in the list of countries that have issues with Twitter.
Meanwhile, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has asked all social media platforms and online broadcasting service providers operating in Nigeria to apply for a broadcast license.
The announcement was placed in a newspaper advertorial and signed by NBC’s director-general, Armstrong Idachaba which was published on Thursday, June 10.
Idachaba said in the advertorial that the NBC establishment code empowers the commission to ask the companies to be licensed, saying;
Section two (b) of the NBC act of 2004 states: “(1) The Commission shall have [the] responsibility of: Receiving, processing and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of radio and television stations including (i) cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting.