The United Nations (UN), through its Human Rights office, and the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday joined the list of international bodies that has condemned the Nigerian government’s ban on the use of Twitter in the country.
Their reactions came as part of growing local and international condemnations that have greeted the Twitter ban since it was announced by the Nigerian government on Friday.
Both the UN office and USAID criticised the suspension of the microblogging site by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in separate tweets.
The human rights of the UN said the suspension of Twitter which it noted followed the social media giant’s removal of a controversial tweet by President Buhari would “severely restrict the right to freedom of expression.”
The tweet read, “#Nigeria: We are concerned by Nigeria’s #TwitterBan which followed a decision by Twitter to remove a Presidential tweet. Sweeping bans that intentionally prevent or disrupt access to, or dissemination of, information online severely restricts the right to freedom of expression.”
Ms Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. donor agency that ranks among Nigeria’s top development partners, joined the U.S. Mission in Nigeria to condemn the ban on Twitter in a tweet early Wednesday.
Her tweet, quoting an earlier statement by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria in criticising the ban on Twitter, amplified what has come to be seen as the U.S government’s displeasure about the development.
The U.S. Nigerian mission statement read, “#Twitterban undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses.”
The U.S embassy, shortly after issuing the statement on June 5, also joined the European Union’s delegation to Nigeria, as well as the diplomatic missions of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Canada in issuing a joint statement to condemn the ban.
In her tweet which also included the hashtag #KeepitOn created by Twitter to fight back Nigerian government’s ban, described the suspension as a “state-sanctioned denial of free speech” in a country with nearly 40 million Twitter users and known to be Africa’s largest tech hub.
“There are nearly 40 M Twitter users in #Nigeria, and the country is home to Africa’s largest tech hub. This suspension is nothing more than state-sanctioned denial of free speech and should be reversed immediately. #KeepitOn,” her tweet read.
The USAID led by Ms Power partners with Nigerian in helping the country to prevent and mitigate conflict, strengthen government services and institutions, and improve Nigerians’ livelihoods.