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BREAKING…Nigerian govt summons envoys of US, UK, EU, Canada over comments related to Twitter ban

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Geoffrey Onyeama

The Federal Government has invited the envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union in Nigeria, over their recent comments on the suspension of the operations of the social media platform, Twitter, in the country.

This was made.known in an invitation to journalists issued on Monday morning by the Crisis Monitoring and Public Communications Division of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed by Kimiebi Ebienfa.

The invitation read, “I am directed to inform that following the recent ban on Twitter by the Federal Government and Press Statement issued by some Heads of Diplomatic Missions Accredited to Nigeria on the subject matter, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency, Geoffrey Onyeama has invited the affected Ambassadors to a meeting today at noon.

“The venue is Minister’s Conference Room, 8th Floor.

“You are hereby invited to cover the meeting. Thanks for your usual cooperation.”

Ripples Nigeria had reported on Saturday, that Canada, EU, UK, US, and the Republic of Ireland, in a joint statement, condemned the suspension, citing an infringement of the citizens’ rights to freedom of expression.

Read also: Nigerian tech founders, investors take turns to criticise Twitter ban by President Buhari

The statement was titled, ‘Joint Statement From The Diplomatic Missions Of Canada, The European Union (Delegation To Nigeria), The Republic Of Ireland, The United Kingdom And The United States Of America’.

It read, “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.

“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.”

Twitter had deleted a controversial civil war tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari saying it went against their rules.

Consequently, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension of Twitter in the country, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Though mobile operators have blocked their customers in the country from using Twitter, many Nigerians adopted the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access the platform.

By Victor Uzoho…

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