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Twitter ban: Nigerian editors call for caution

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NIGERIAN Guild of Editors (NGE) has urged the federal government to tread with caution and immediately reconsider the suspension of the operation of Twitter in Nigeria and seek other legitimate means of resolving its dispute with the company.

  A statement signed by its President Mustapha Isah and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren said that the action by Federal Government has an unintended consequences of hindering free speech and  jeopardising economic interests of many Nigerians who rely on the social media platform for vital information to make informed business decisions daily.

  The statement, therefore, advised Federal Government to desist from any action because it will not only project it as a dictatorship but also constitutes a flagrant infringement on Section 39 of 1999 Constitution.

  “In addition, the suspension is a grave breach of Nigeria’s international obligations under article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. If the Federal Government finds Twitter’s action against the President objectionable, Nigerians should not be made to suffer the collateral damage of denying them their right to free discourse on Twitter.

However, the ban at the weekend, of Twitter’s operation in Nigeria, is an overkill that gives wind to the sail of critics who daily accuse the Buhari administration of intolerance of opposing views. The Federal Government has the responsibility to safeguard the unity, peace and stability of Nigeria and any person or group that threatens this must draw its ire.

In expressing its anger,  government, however, ought to exercise restraints to avoid giving the impression that it is intolerant of opposing views and expression of opinions by individuals and corporate citizens,” it reads in part.

  Stressing its concern over the growing insecurity in the country, the editors advise social media businesses, which provide micro-messaging services, to also beam their searchlight on the activities of those who want to use their platforms to cause divisions and spread hatred in the country and the global community as well.

  Noting the socio-political and economic benefits of social media platforms, the NGE notes  that strong democracies rely on both civic and political participation by citizens, saying that Twitter, has over the years, aided citizens’ participation in the nation’s democratic process.

  It will be recalled that Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, condemned the deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s view as an unacceptable tab on the president’s right, saying this ought to have been a sufficient response.

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