Ebun Francis| The US on Thursday called on the Nigerian government to respect the rights of its citizens to freely express themselves by reversing its suspension of Twitter’s operations in the West African country.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Department of State, Ned Price, described freedom of expression and access to information as both essential ingredients in any democratic setting.
“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy. Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” read a statement posted on the Department of State’s website.
“We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension.”
The US government also faulted the move by the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami to prosecute violators of Twitter ban in the country as well as the National Broadcasting Corporation’s order to broadcast houses to deactivate their Twitter handles.
“The United States condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter,” it said.
“The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.”
Nigeria last Friday suspended the operations of the microblogging platform following the deletion of President Buhari’s tweet referencing the civil war while reacting to the destruction of lives and properties by suspected IPOB militants.