Nigerian Government defends decision on Twitter suspension

By Zubairu Mohammed Abuja

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The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama says the temporary suspension of Twitter is in the interest of national security and sustaining peace and security in the country.

Mr Onyeama stated this in Abuja during a meeting with Diplomats of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and the European Union.

The meeting was convened following a joint statement by the UK, US, EU and other groups in Nigeria and abroad condemning the temporary ban of twitter operations by the Nigerian government.

Briefing journalists after a closed door meeting, Onyeama said that Presidnet Muhammadu Buhari was keen on ensuring the use of social media platforms like Tweeter handle would not be used to destabilise the peace and unity of the country.

“We had very useful discussions and we just reinstated the security concerns of Mr President and of all Nigerians and the very strong steps that need to be taken to address the security challenges of the country.

“They are all living here with us in Nigeria and have a fair view and experience of the security challenges we are facing.

 “We have also discussed the role of social media as a platform, but like everything else, that can be used to do good and bad.

 “And unfortunately, the bad that social media is often used to commit has very dire consequences on human lives and consequences and in our case also, threatening the unity of the country.

 “And as the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order, security, and to preserve human lives, we have to take every measure to ensure that all those are preserved.

“Yes, we believe as a democracy in Nigeria the right to life, the right to property ownership and we believe in human rights and freedom of speech but all that has to be used responsibly.

 “So we have discussed and our partnership and solidarity with the five countries was reaffirmed”, Onyeama explained.

Human Rights And Rule of Law
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Mary Beth Leonard said as partners, the US and other partners would continue to engage with Nigeria to uphold human rights and the rule of law.

“We have to be very clear that we are Nigeria’s strong partners on issues of security and we recognize the daunting task on the issues of security that confronts Nigeria.

 “While they are daunting, they are not insurmountable, and part of the way you surmount them is with the partnership of the people you see represented here.

“We recognise that there are issues of irresponsible use of social media but we remain firm in our position that free access to the ability to express on self is very important and perhaps more important is troubles times.

 “We are glad to hear that they have interacted with twitter.

 “Many of the things the Minister is referring to, such as inciting or committing violence are crimes which the government of Nigeria has legitimate interest in and prosecuting those who commit such crimes.

 “And we encourage them to use judicial processes within the scope of respecting human rights and rule of law and restrain that sort of behaviors,” Leonard said.

According to the Nigerian government, the Tweeter operations were suspended because the platform was being used for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Ministry of foreign affairs has refuted the story making around on social media that the Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said the Nigerian Government has given conditions for the lifting of the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

The Ministry in a statement States categorically that the Minister didn’t give any condition regarding lifting the Twitter suspension.

Confidence Okwuchi

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