What’s Nigeria’s beef with Twitter?

Twitter has been suspended in Nigeria after what could be described as a spat between the social media giant and President Muhammadu Buhari.

It’s unclear for how long this suspension is going to last, but the government’s pretty unhappy: they’ve suggested the platform is being used to destabilise the country and to encourage criminality.

“Arguably, the suspension of Twitter, access to Twitter in Nigeria is one of the biggest issues right now being discussed,” says the BBC’s Chris Ewokor in Abuja.

The government says it’s discussing with Twitter how to move forward – but many Nigerians are having none of it.

Some users told me the move was a “violation of human rights”, proof that people’s “freedom of expression is being tampered with”.

We condemn the ban on Twitter in Nigeria on a number of fundamental grounds. said Premium Times Nigeria in an editorial.

First, the ban constitutes a gross abuse of office, as it elevates the personal interest of the President above that of the country and her citizens. The President is indeed NOT the state and disagreements over the personal terms he voluntarily entered with Twitter should not be allowed to threaten the public and national interest. Moreover, we are not aware of any law of the federation that allows the President or a Minister to whimsically deny Nigerians access to social media services of their choice.

Secondly, the ban is a grave violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which the trio of the President, the Minister of Information and the Minister of Justice swore to uphold. By infringing citizens’ fundamental right to the freedom of expression and association, it violates section 39 of the Constitution, while undermining the social and economic rights guaranteed Nigerian citizens by Chapter 11 of the Constitution.

Thirdly, the ban is a violation of and assault on a number of international, continental and regional instruments that Nigeria willingly subscribes to. Indeed, the ban clearly falls below their expectations of the realm of the rights and freedom that citizens should freely enjoy.

Fourthly, the ban constitutes an unwarranted attack on the corporate, business and professional interests of organisations and individuals legitimately managing their affairs on Twitter, including but not limited to the media, entrepreneurs, researchers, educational institutions, NGOs and CCSOs. As at the third quarter of 2020, Twitter accounted for 61.4 per cent of Internet users in Nigeria, coming after WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, according to ‘Statista’, while ‘Quora’ estimates the number to be about seven million. Even if the number of users is considerably less, it still does not justify a ban that is jeopardising the means of business and social communication of citizens.

Fifthly, the ban further underscores the investor community’s growing concern over the unpredictability of the domestic policy environment. The consequences of a subsequent attenuation of investment for an economy whose recovery from the initial stages of the pandemic has been described as “fragile” are better imagined.

BBC & Premium Times Nigeria