From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States Government has called for the immediate reversal of the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
The call by the US is the fourth intervention the country has made in a week after last Friday’s suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria by the federal government.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power said the suspension was nothing more than state-sanctioned denial of free speech.
Power noted that Nigeria has nearly 40 million Twitter users, while also saying that the country was home to Africa’s largest tech hub.
In a Facebook post by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, Power said the suspension should be reversed immediately.
‘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,’ Power said.
The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria had last Saturday issued a statement where it said the suspension of Twitter’s operations was an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression.
‘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,’ the United States said.
Closely followed by the statement was a joint release by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, the United Kingdom, the Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Canadian High Commission and the Embassy of Ireland.
In the joint statement, the five missions expressed disappointment over the Federal Government’s decision to place a ban on Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
‘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,’ the statement partly read.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, had while responding to a question concerning the joint statement on Monday during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the missions maintained their position.
‘We remain firm in our position that free access to the ability to express one’s self is actually very important, and perhaps even more important in troubled times,’ Leonard said.