Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs (centre) During a Meeting with Foreign Diplomats Monday, June 7, in Abuja, FCT Photo: Channels TV

Nigeria gives condition for lifting ban as NBC directs broadcast stations to deactivate Twitter accounts

*The Federal Government announces it will it will restore Twitter operations in Nigeria though with no definite date, if Nigerians will use the social media platform ‘responsibly’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As a measure towards resolving the lingering face-off with the global tech giant in the country, the Federal Government has said that it will restore Twitter operations in Nigeria, if Nigerians use social media platform ‘responsibly’.

Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated this after a meeting with some of the top envoys of various Diplomatic Missions in the country Monday, June 7, 2021, in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect reports the Minister, while highlighting that the responsibility of the government is to protect law, order and human lives, however, restated that there is no definite time for lifting the ban.

Onyeama said: “The condition would be a responsible use of the social media and that really has to be it.

“We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing; why we have taken this measure is to stop them to be used as platforms for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities.”

Diplomats from Canada, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, and Republic of Ireland were present in the meeting held in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abuja Monday.

Report indicates that the meeting with the foreign diplomats became necessary sequel to a joint reaction by the envoys, expressing disappointment at the indefinite suspension of the global microblogging and social media site.

In regard to the highlight of the meeting, Onyeama reportedly said he had a fruitful deliberation with the foreign representatives, and reviewed the situation.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s security concerns and the steps taken to address them were tabled at the forum, said the Minister.

According him, the government acknowledges the roles social media plays and how it swings positively and negatively.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs also stressed that the negative aspect has dire consequences and can threaten the unity of Nigeria.

These concerns, he noted, have brought about the strong steps taken by President Buhari to maintain the country’s unity.

Nevertheless, Onyeama emphasised the need for the envoys to support the country on the Twitter ban, just as they lent their support to fixing the security crisis.

Mary Beth Leonards, US Ambassador to Nigeria, who spoke on behalf of other envoys at the meeting, stated they want to see Nigeria succeed, and while the challenges could be daunting, they are not insurmountable.

The US Ambassador, however, reminded the Nigerian Government that free access to social media is important, and they are happy that the government is in talks with Twitter.

The concerned diplomatic missions Saturday, June 5 had said they were disappointed by the decision to suspend Twitter operations in Nigeria.

In a joint statement, the missions said: “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.

The joint statement noted: “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.”

Why NBC directs all broadcasting stations to deactivate Twitter accounts: Prof. Armstrong Idachaba

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has directed all broadcasting stations in the country to deactivate their Twitter accounts and suspend the patronage of the microblogging service provider forthwith.

The NBC in a communiqué Monday, June 7 said that the directive followed the earlier suspension of Twitter services in the country by the Federal Government.

Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, Director-General of the broadcasting industry agency, in view of “the persistent use of Twitter for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”, the government suspended Twitter operations “indefinitely”.

The Commission, therefore, directed all broadcasting stations to not patronise the social networking service, while they desist from using the platform as a source of information in the country.

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