The European Union and America expressed concerns over Nigeria’s choice to suspend Twitter operations in the country after Twitter deleted President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the site’s rules.
Several users viewed his post in which he referred to Nigeria’s civil war forty years ago in a warning about recent unrest.
His administration said Saturday that the tweet’s deletion was disappointing but not the reason for the temporary ban. A Garba Shehu, the presidency spokesman, said that “there has been a litany of issues with Twitter in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread though it has had real-world violent consequences.”
Social Media Platform said that the ban declaration Friday by Lai Muhammed, Information Minister, was extremely concerning.
Mobile phone networks compiled with the administration directive on Friday to suspend access to the social platform indefinitely.
The diplomatic missions of America, the U.K., the European Union, Ireland, and Canada issued a joint declaration on late Saturday condemning the indefinite suspension. It stated that “Banning system of expressions isn’t the answer.”
— Akpraise (@AkpraiseMedia) June 5, 2021
According to NOI polls (Nigeria-based public opinion and research organization), over thirty-nine million Nigerians have accounts on Twitter.
Twitter has played a significant role in public discourse in Nigeria, with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls (Christian female students aged from sixteen to 18) on the night of 14–15 April 2014. Moreover, the #EndSARS hashtag also played a part during anti-law enforcement brutality demonstrations in 2020.
‘VPN app’, the second most searched trend on Google
A former general Muhammadu Buhari, 78, referred to those misbehaving in violence in the country’s south-east, where authorities blame a proscribed separatist organization, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), for attacks on the law enforcement and election offices.
Mr. President posted on Twitter that those of them in the fields for thirty months, who went through the war, would treat them in the words they understand.
Late on Saturday, the administration denied that the social media platform ban was in response to the removal of that Twitter post.
Garba Shehu stated that removing Muhammadu Buhari’s Twitter post was ‘disappointing and Big tech firms must be active to their responsibilities.’
The company stated that ‘Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in the modern society.’ Moreover, it said they ‘would work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on the social media platform to connect and communicate with the world. #KeepitOn’
Moreover, on Saturday, the ‘VPN app’ was the second most searched trend on Google in the country to virtually bypass the ban.
However, Nigeria cautioned that it would prosecute the rule’s violators.
This action is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. #TwitterBan #Nigeria
— Amnesty International Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) June 4, 2021
Amnesty International criticized the suspension, calling on Nigeria to immediately tilt the unlawful ban.
Spokesman Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said that Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, has directed for the immediate prosecution of the offenders of the Federal Administration suspension on the social media platform operations in the country.