The Swedish Embassy and UK and Canadian High Commissions in Nigeria have weighed in on the Federal Government’s decision to indefinitely suspend Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had announced the indefinite suspension in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Adeyemi on Friday.
“The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
“The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria,” the statement read.
The action appeared to be in reaction to Twitter’s decision to delete a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official handle @MBuhari on Tuesday.
The Herald reported Saturday morning that the browser and app versions of the social media platform have stopped working in the country, although some Nigerians have confirmed gaining access through Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Reacting to the ban, the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria wrote, “Nigerians have a constitutional right to exercise their freedom of expression and a right to access of information. This must be respected. Safeguarding free, independent media and civic spaces for democratic voices is an important part of Sweden’s #DriveForDemocracy #TwitterBan”
Also reacting, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Gill Atkinson urged the government not to “suppress basic freedoms”.
“All Nigerians have the right to freedom of speech and the responsibility not to misuse that right. Any action taken by Government must be measured, proportionate and not supress basic freedoms,” Atkinson wrote in a tweet that was retweeted by the British High Commission in Nigeria’s official Twitter handle.
Similarly, the Canadian Acting High Commissioner in Nigeria, Nicolas Simard, emphasised the importance of freedom of speech and access to reliable information.
He called on the Federal Government to fully protect the human rights of Nigerians, and condemned the use of Twitter for hate speech and rhetoric.
“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. (1/2) #TwitterBan
“These #HumanRights should be fully protected, while preventing inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech that could fuel tension and conflict. (2/2) #TwitterBan #Nigeria”