Nigeria’s democratic credentials received a serious diplomatic battering on Sunday over last Friday’s decision by the Federal Government to clampdown on the use of microblogging social media, Twitter in Nigeria, with key diplomatic missions in the country deploring the action as undemocratic and not the path to guarantee a more secure Nigeria.
The Diplomatic Missions of Canada, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and United States of America as well as the European Union delegation to Nigeria in a joint statement on Sunday said they “strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria.”
Read full Statement:
“The diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America convey our disappointment over the Government of Nigeria’s announcement suspending #Twitter and proposing registration requirements for other social media.
“We strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline. Banning systems of expression is not the answer.
“These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity, peace and prosperity. As Nigeria’s partners, we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.”
Earlier, in a separate statement, the US government said the ban on Twitter in Nigeria by the Federal Government is undermining Nigerians’ fundamental freedoms and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses.
“Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The Government’s recent #Twitterban undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses. Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive, and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms. 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. #KeepitOn.” The statement by the US Mission in Nigeria said.
Since the announcement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Layi Mohammed, there have been local and international condemnation of the action, with some civil society groups threatening to take legal actions against the Federal Government for assaulting the democratic rights of Nigerians by denying them the use of the social medium.