The Federal Government of Nigeria has summoned the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), European Union (EU), Canada, Norway and Republic of Ireland over their condemnation of the government’s ban on Twitter.
The envoys are to explain the reason behind such allegedly brazen criticism of the Nigerian Government policy.
The sunmon was contained in a statement issued on Monday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressing that the affected Envoys have been asked to report to the Ministry by 12pm on Monday June 7, 2021.
LEADERSHIP reports that the six diplomatic missions in Nigeria had expressed outrage over the ‘indefinite suspension’ of the microblogging social media platform, Twitter, saying it violated the freedom of speech of Nigerians and could affect businesses and investments in Nigeria.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who announced Twitter’s suspension, on Friday, noted that the ban was because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
The Nigerian government’s indefinite suspension of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria followed the deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets against insurrectionists in the South Eastern part of the country where the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu, is instigating separatist activities.
The further disclosed that the Federal Government had also directed the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC) “to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”
But in a joint statement issued on Saturday, the foreign diplomatic missions of the US, EU delegation to Nigeria, UK, Canada, Republic of Ireland and Norway, described the ban as a measure to inhibit access to information.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP by the British High Commission to Nigeria said, “the diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, Norway, 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.”
The statement said further that, “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.”