The Nigerian government has justified its action regarding the suspension of Twitter in the country.
In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Saturday June 5, 2021, the government stated that the temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post.
“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability,” the statement reads.
It adds, “Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.”
According to the statement, the President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said “the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.”
It explains further that many crimes have been fueled by social media networks.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.
“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.
“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.
“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens,” the statement says.
It continues, “When the President said that they will be treated in a language they understand he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.
“This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.”
The government noted that IPOB was proscribed under Nigerian law, stressing that its members murder innocent Nigerians.
“They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.
“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy,” the statement concluded.
Condemning the decision of the Nigerian government, US Mission Nigeria stated that “Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression.”
It adds that the govemment’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.”