The US has 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.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening by the spokesperson of the Department of State Ned Price, the US explained that freedom of expression and access to information are 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.”
In a move that has caused ripples across the nation, many Nigerians in the wake of the ban devised several means to sidestep the blockade including using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami had in a swift reaction ordered the prosecution of people using the social media platform in the country.
But the US government has faulted the move as well as the National Broadcasting Commission’s order to broadcast houses in Nigeria.
“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.”