Digital rights body, Paradigm Initiative, has described the decision of Nigeria’s federal government to ban access to social media platform, Twitter, as a brazen abuse of human rights.
The government had in a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Friday, announced its suspension of Twitter operations, noting that the application can be used as a platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Many Nigerians, according to the Initiative, read the announcement of the ban on Twitter as a reflection of the importance of the platform and other digital (social media) platforms to Nigerians in accessing information and disseminating the same.
“The directive by the Nigerian government is at its core, an abuse of the rights of Nigerians not just to freedom of expression, but many other rights guaranteed in the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This suspension, which is a reaction of the Nigerian government to the company’s enforcement of its platform rules, is aimed at insulating the government from criticism, especially by Nigeria’s youth who are over 70% of the country’s population,” the group said in a statement.
“It must be noted that Nigeria’s President has notably been insulated from every form of public accountability. He is perhaps the only president since the country’s return to democracy in 1999 who never grants live interviews or holds media chats. This move is therefore aimed at making him unaccountable to the people of Nigeria who constantly take to social media platforms to share their views on the actions and policies of the government.
“It is evident that shutting down Twitter is illegal and illegitimate policies such as this are unacceptable!
“A 2016 United Nations resolution affirms that the rights that citizens have offline must apply online. Coincidentally, this resolution was co-sponsored by Nigeria with others. We urge the Nigerian authorities to respect and enforce citizens’ fundamental rights as provided for by the Nigerian constitution and International human rights treaties that Nigeria is a party to.
“We will further contact the Ministry of Information to get exact details of this announcement, and the legal framework that supports such undemocratic pronouncement. We advise all users of twitter and other social media platforms in Nigeria to download virtual private networks (VPNs) to enable them continue to use the platforms for their economic survival and social and political engagements while we all push back on this draconian order by the Nigerian government.”