UPDATED: FG Meets Envoys Of Top Diplomatic Missions Over Twitter Ban
Federal Government has met with some of the top envoys of various Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria.
The meeting held at the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Envoys present at the meeting included those of Canada, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.
The meeting was occasioned by the recent Twitter ban and the envoys’ reactions to the indefinite suspension of the microblogging platform.
Speaking after the meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said they had a fruitful deliberation and reviewed the situation.
According to the minister, the security concerns of President Muhammadu Buhari and the steps taken to address them were tabled.
Onyeama said the government acknowledges the roles social media plays and it swings positively and negatively. He stressed that the negative aspect has dire consequences and can threaten the unity of the country.
The minister further stated that these concerns have brought about the strong steps taken by the president to maintain the nation’s unity.
Regarding the ban, Onyeama said the duration of the Twitter suspension, cannot be determined, for now, adding that the responsibility of the government in a democracy is to protect law, order, and human lives.
He highlighted the need for the envoys to support the country on the Twitter ban, just as they lent their support to fixing the security crisis.
On her part, the US Ambassador, Mary-beth Leonards who spoke on behalf of other envoys, said they want to see Nigeria succeed, and while the challenges could be daunting, they aren’t insurmountable.
She reminded the government that free access to social media, is important and they are happy that the government, is in talks with Twitter.
The diplomatic missions had on Saturday said they were let down by the decision to suspend Twitter operations in Nigeria.
“The diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America convey our disappointment over the Government of Nigeria’s announcement suspending #Twitter and proposing registration requirements for other social media,” a joint statement from the missions said.
“We strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline.
“Banning systems of expression is not the answer. These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at 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.
“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity, peace, and prosperity. As Nigeria’s partners, we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.”
Bad for Business
Earlier the United States had chided the Nigerian government over its decision.
“Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression,” a statement from the US Mission in Nigeria said.
“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.”