Three days after the federal government’s ban on the use of Twitter, the general overseer of the Redeemer Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, defended his continued use of the microblogging platform.
The platform has played an important role in the public discourse in the country, with hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014 and #EndSARS during protests against police brutality last year. The government claimed that Twitter’s suspension was supposed to protect the country’s sovereignty, but digital rights advocates said it was censorship.
Adeboye joined the Twitter conversation yesterday, saying the tweeting was consistent with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Using its official handle, @PastorEAAdeboye, the cleric with a large following around the world, said, “The Redeemed Christian Church of God has its seat in more than 170 nations and territories. The tweets here are in line with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes the freedom to express opinions without interference and to seek, receive and pass on information and ideas through all media and regardless of borders. ”
Also the founder and general superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry Worldwide, Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi helped defend the relevance of Twitter, who also said the Church has branches in 100 countries and five continents and therefore can tweet from anywhere in the world.
Kumuyi did so on his Twitter handle @ pastorwf_kumuyi in response to the federal government’s suspension of the social media platform and a threat from the Federation Attorney General Abubakar Malami to prosecute.
He tweeted: “Given the Twitter ban in Nigeria, please note that the content of this handle is aimed at a global audience in more than five continents and over 100 nations, and we do the content Share from any of these locations. ”
Almost two days after the social media platform deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government blocked Twitter last Friday. Since then, the government has come under fire from many human rights groups around the world for stifling freedom of expression.
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) issued a statement on Saturday that it had complied with government policy . Despite the ban, millions of Nigerians continue to access the platform via Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
HOWEVER, the government has announced that it will lift the ban if only the platform can be used responsibly. Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Onyeama announced the condition yesterday at a meeting with envoys from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and the European Union in Nigeria.
Onyeama noted that the microblogging platform was not shut down because it threatened the country, but the ban was intended to prevent Twitter from being used for criminal activities.
“The condition would be to treat them responsibly social media and it really has to be, ”he said when asked when the ban would be lifted. “We’re not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or anything like that. We took this measure to prevent them from being used as platforms to destabilize and facilitate crime, or to promote crime. If you have the power to communicate, there must be responsibility. ”When asked if the government is seeking Chinese advice to put a firewall around the Internet in the country, the minister said,“ I am no known meeting with the Chinese authorities regarding social media. “
Twitter described its exposure as” deeply worrying “and announced that it would restore access to anyone in Nigeria who rely on the platform to get on with the world to communicate and connect with the world. According to surveys by NOI, a public opinion and research organization, more than 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account.
“Banning expression systems is not the solution,” said the EU, the US, the UK, Canada and Ireland said in the statement late Saturday. The statement added that it was “precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to promote inclusive dialogue, expression and exchange of important information during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
On behalf of the five envoys at a meeting In camera with Onyeama, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, represented the five ambassadors’ previous position that the Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter violated the freedom of expression of Nigerians, despite the government’s concern that the platform is used to spread hate speech and crime.
“We recognize the official position of the Nigerian government on the responsible use of social media, but we remain firm in our position that free access to information is very important and perhaps in difficult times is even more important, “she said.
” We are here as partners and we want Nigeria to succeed is calibrated. It is very clear that we are Nigeria’s strongest partner on security issues and we recognize the discouraging times in terms of the security challenges Nigeria is facing. They are daunting, but not insurmountable, and part of the way to overcome them is the partnership of the people you see represented here, “added Leonard.
The envoys were optimistic that the federal government could achieve a joint Base reached as she was included in discussions with Twitter. Onyeama also confirmed that the Nigerian government was talking to Twitter about the best ways to resolve the matter.
Valentine Ozigbo, business mogul and international sports developer, also condemned the suspension of Twitter activities in Nigeria and urged the government to: rethink their attitude towards suspension. According to him, the ban goes against the constitutional right of Nigerians to express their thoughts and access information freely.
“It is evident that this decision was made in a hurry and was not well thought out by the authorities. It contradicts Nigerians’ constitutional right to freedom of expression and access to information.
“The economic consequences of such actions should have been examined before such pronouncements are made. Twitter is a platform that drives business and creates jobs for millions of Nigerians, especially the youth.
“As a business leader and investor in technology and communications, I appreciate the role of social networking platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in promoting business and economy. This suspension will have unprecedented negative consequences for our economy, our image as a democracy and the youth who use Twitter as a platform to advance their careers, ”concluded Ozigbo.
Ozigbo, the immediate former President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc , urged the government to reflect on investor confidence and “how certain government policies affect our ease of attracting FDI.
” Nigeria is a country with tremendous opportunities for foreign investment. In the national interest, the government should consider the common good when implementing certain policies, ”said Ozigbo, a leader in Anambra’s upcoming gubernatorial polls.
AFTER the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has them all Broadcasting stations in the country instructed to immediately suspend patronage of the platform.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, NBC’s acting general manager Prof. Armstrong Idachaba ordered all broadcasters to uninstall their Twitter handles and stop using them as a source of information for news and program presentations.
He noted that it would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronize the suspended Twitter as a source of information and called for strict compliance.
Idachaba noted that the policy was consistent with Section 2 (1) r of the ABC Act, which gives the Commission the responsibility to ensure strict compliance with national laws, rules and regulations.
He said: “Section 3.11.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code provides that the broadcaster must ensure that law enforcement is maintained at all times on any matter that shows that law and order are higher or more desirable than crime and society Anarchy.
“In addition, reference is made to section 5.6.3 of the Code, which requires broadcasters to be aware of materials that lead to dissatisfaction, panic or division in society when using user-generated content (UGC) can. ”
REACTING, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the apparently illegal and unconstitutional instruction by NBC to all broadcasters in the country to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect. SERAP states in a statement signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, that the policy is illegal as it is based on another illegal decision by the federal government to block Twitter in Nigeria.
According to the organization, the NBC directive is steeped in political influence. It is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, media freedom, media independence and diversity. The instruction is to be withdrawn immediately.
“Freedom of expression, you said, is a basic human right. This NBC action is yet another coffin nail for human rights, media freedom and independent journalism under this administration.
“The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should publicly and vigorously express concern about the increasingly brutal crackdown on the Nigerian government Expressing freedom of the media and using all possible means to urge President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to protect and respect freedom of expression.
“The international community should stand by broadcasters and journalists and make it clear to the Nigerian government that that freedom of expression, media freedom, transparency and accountability and respect for the rule of law are essential for democracy. ”
The National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chorf Chris Isiguzo, said yesterday that the ban is undemocratic, obnoxious and utterly unacceptable, and urged President Buhari to lift the ban.
Chief Isiguzo stated this in his speech at the third NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, noting that such a decision was completely contrary to democratic principles.
“At this point, let me pause and express our views on the recent decision by the federal government to ban Twitter’s activities in Nigeria. We believe that the decision is completely contrary to democratic principles. An essential part of democratic governance is the right of the people to freedom of expression.
“The people are prevented from expressing themselves freely at any time, then democracy takes flight. The decision to ban Twitter is undemocratic, offensive, and completely unacceptable. We ask the government of President Buhari there to reverse the decision immediately, “said Isiguzo.
Meanwhile, the Online Publishers of Nigeria (OPAN), Nigeria’s leading association for new media and online news publishers, have urged the government to Immediately lift the ban on Twitter operations in the country and stop violating citizens’ rights to freedom of expression. In a statement by Austyn Ogannah, President, and Daniel Elombah, Secretary General, OPAN said: “The reasons given for suspending or banning Twitter are not convincing as the federal government has not exhausted other communication channels with the social media giant.
“The federal government’s action amounts to killing an ant with a sledgehammer and has given Nigeria a very bad image in the eyes of the international community,” OPAN said in a statement released yesterday.
OPAN also condemned clandestine efforts to muzzle social media voices in Nigeria and called on the federal government to “deal with issues affecting youth, freedom of expression, media freedom and actions that directly or indirectly affect unemployment exercise restraint ”. Gap in Country. “
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