FG Summons US, UK Envoys, Others Over Twitter Ban

The Federal Government has summoned the envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union in Nigeria over their recent comments on the suspension of microblogging site Twitter in the West African Country.

This was contained in an invitation to pressmen issued on Monday morning by Kimiebi Ebienfa of the Crisis Monitoring and Public Communications Division of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“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 12 noon.

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

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

The PUNCH had earlier reported that in a joint statement on Saturday, Canada, EU, UK, US, and the Republic of Ireland said banning systems of expression is not the way forward.

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 post by the Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

NBC Threatens To Sanction Media Houses

The National Broadcasting Commission has ordered that all broadcast stations in the country terminate Twitter’s patronage immediately.

According to NBC, the decision came after the Federal Government suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria due to the platform’s continued usage for actions that threaten Nigeria’s corporate existence.

The Commission ordered broadcast stations to “de-install Twitter handles and refrain from utilizing Twitter as a source (UGC) of information collection for news and program presentation, particularly phone-in,” according to the Commission.

The acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, issued the directive in a statement on Monday titled: “Suspend Twitter handles.”

He said, “Consequent on the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission directs all Broadcasting Stations in Nigeria to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.

“In Compliance to the above directive, Broadcasting Stations are hereby advised to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for News and programmes Presentation especially phone-in.

“Section 2(1) r of the NBC Act entrusts the Commission with responsibility to ensure strict adherence to the national laws, rules and regulations. Also, Section 3.11.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code provides that “the broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a matter depicting that law and order are socially superior to or more desirable than crime and anarchy.

“Attention is also drawn to section 5.6.3 of The Code which requires Broadcasters to be mindful of materials that may cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society in the use of a user-generated content (UGC).

“Note that it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronize the suspended Twitter as a source of its information therefore strict compliance is enjoined.”

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