The United States Government says the suspension of Twitter by the government of president Muhammadu Buhari contravenes the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.
The US said this in a statement on Saturday, noting that the ban undermines the right of Nigerians to exercise this freedom and it sends a poor message to investors.
The statement read, “Nigeria’s constitution provides for freedom of expression. The government’s recent #Twitterban undermines Nigeria’s ability to exercise this fundamental freedom and sends a poor message to its citizens, investors and businesses.
“Banning social media and curbing every citizen’s ability to seek, receive and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms. As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation and accountability has never been greater.
“The part to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less communication, alongside concerted efforts towards unity, peace and prosperity.”
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Amnesty International and top constitutional lawyers had also condemned the banning Twitter in Nigeria, saying it is unconstitutional and illegal.
Twitter had on Tuesday deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was alleged to be offensive. In the said tweet, the President of Nigeria had threatened the Igbos, in the Eastern part of the country, with another civil war. Three million Igbos, mainly children and women, had perished in the civil war that lasted from 1967-1970.
Many outraged Nigerians reported the tweet to Twitter and it was eventually deleted as offensive.
The Buhari government promptly responded with a ban. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension earlier on Friday, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.