The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has told the government of Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) that restricting the use of social media has no place in a democracy.
A communiqué on Thursday, signed by Blinken’s spokesman, Ned Price, disclosed this.
The statement titled, ‘Nigeria’s Twitter Suspension’, read condemnation from Blinken over the suspension of micro-blogging site, Twitter, by the Buhari government.
The statement read, “The United States condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter. The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.
“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.
“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.”
On June 4, 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria, “citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
It also said all Over The Top and social media platforms must be licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission, a move that has been described as an attempt to gag freedom of expression in Nigeria.
Despite widespread condemnation from the local and international community as well as civil society organisations that the right of expression of Nigerians be respected, the Buhari government has stood it ground that the social media space must be regulated.