The United States has condemned the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter.
This was contained in a statement signed by Ned Price, Spokesperson, U.S Department of State.
On June 4, the Federal Government suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in the country.
However, Nigerians have turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the ban.
Reacting, the U.S on Thursday, said that “Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.”
The statement read: “The United States condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter.
“The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.
“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy.
“Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.
“We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension.”
Why Nigeria banned Twitter
Twitter had deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari where he threatened to punish those responsible for attacks on government facilities in the South East.
The now-deleted tweet read:
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
According to Twitter, the tweet violated its “abusive behaviour” policy.
Immediately after the tweet was deleted, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication, Lai Mohammed held a press conference where he condemned the decision.
He said: “Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr President anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views.“
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