As U.S. steps up pressure on FG over ban

 

Abiodun OBA

 

The Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that the social media group, Twitter, has called for a high level discussion with the federal government over the recent suspension of its activities in Nigeria.

Mohammed disclosed this to newsmen  after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja,on Wednesday.

The Minister said Twitter has reached out to the federal government seeking high-level discussion to resolve the issue.

Mohammed, said he got Twitter’s request on Wednesday morning but listed conditions that must be met even if there is a discussion with Twitter to include that it must now be registered in Nigeria as a business concern.

Apart from Twitter, the minister said other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram must also be registered in the country.

According to him, freedom of speech has not been stifled by the suspension of Twitter, adding that Nigerians can still use other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Meanwhile, The United States is stepping up pressure on the Buhari regime over the Twitter ban.

In the latest UN intervention on the matter, Samantha Power, current Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is calling for “immediate”. reversal of the ban.

Power wrote on Twitter: “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, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN (2008-2013) referenced the statement made 5 June by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, also calling for the lifting of the suspension on the micro-blogging social media platform.

The U.S. Mission in Nigeria condemned the ban as an encroachment on the Peoples right to Freedom.

“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.”

Recall that on Tuesday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and and 176 concerned citizens filed a lawsuit against the Buhari administration over “the unlawful suspension of Twitter”.

The plaintiffs, in the suit filed by legal luminary, Femi Falana (SAN), want an end to the criminalization of Nigerians using the microblogging site, the repression of human rights, freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.

The Nigerian government on June 4, 2021, suspended Twitter indefinitely after Buhari’s tweet was deleted.

The President had stated that many of those misbehaving in the South-East region were young and did not witness the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the civil war.

“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand”, the retired Major General warned.

After the deletion, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, condemned “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

The suspension has been criticised by Nigerians, western nations and international organizations.

It is now been openly defied by the citizens.

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