The US and the European Union voiced concern over Nigeria’s decision to indefinitely ban Twitter after the US social media giant deleted a tweet from the president’s account for violating its rules.
International human rights groups have also condemned the move, which followed previous attempts by the government of Africa’s most populous country to regulate social media.
The diplomatic missions of the EU, US, Britain, Canada and Ireland issued a joint statement late Saturday condemning the ban.
“Precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
More than 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, according to NOI polls, a public opinion and research organisation based in Nigeria.
The government’s suspension came after Twitter on Wednesday deleted a remark on President Muhammadu Buhari’s account in which he referred to the country’s civil war four decades ago in a warning about recent unrest.
– ‘Misinformation’ –
The presidency denied late on Saturday that the Twitter suspension was a response to the removal of that post.
Shehu said the removal of Buhari’s tweet was “disappointing” and said “major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities.”
“Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society. We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn,” the company said in a statement.
Nigeria warned however that it would prosecute violators.
Amnesty International condemned the ban, calling on Nigeria to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension”.