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Why FG is giving conditions to lift Twitter ban

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By Nedum Uchendu

The worldwide condemnation on the ban of Twitter in Nigeria by the federal government, a move seen as first step to curbing and stopping free press in Nigeria seems to be forcing the government into some stunts.

At the last count, the government is giving conditions for lifting the ban and says responsible use would be gthe way out.

However, watchers have seen the condition given by the Foreign Minister, Geofrey Onyeama on responsible use as no excuse since the reason for the ban wasn’t about use as the same government, agencies and actors are most active Twitter users including President Muhammadu Buhari.

The position seems to try to divert attention to the cause of the ban which is the fact that Twitter deleted a tweet ot deemed offensive by President Buhari, a move that has been interpreted as the government shutting down avenues for criticizing it.

Onyeama had said at a meeting with some envoys said that there is no definite timeline for the lifting the ban but added: “The condition would be 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,” he also said.

At the meeting held in Abuja on Monday were the envoys of the US, UK, Canada and the European Union, all of whom had condemned the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

Despite the government’s claim that Twitter is being used to undermine the existence of Nigeria, some have argued the suspension may be connected to the company’s decision to delete President Muhammadu Buhari tweet recently.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the envoys had said: “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. Banning systems of expression is not the answer.”

This prompted the federal government to invite them to the meeting. After the parley held behind closed doors, Onyeama said both parties had successful discussions on the issue.

The minister said the government takes the comments of the envoys “very seriously”, hence the decision to discuss the matter with them in the “usual friendly way.”

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