A civil rights movement under the aegis of Yiaga Africa has condemned the indefinite suspension of Twitter services in Nigeria by the Federal Government saying the decision contravened democratic principles.

The organisation said the directive that all Over-The-Top services must be licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission before they could operate within Nigeria had sent “a dangerous signal to the world that Nigeria is not open for investments, particularly in the technology and entertainment sector.”

“To this end, we call on the Federal Government to reverse this decision immediately, and to refrain from further assault on press freedom, freedom of expression and free speech”, the organisation said in a statement by its Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu.

According to her, the Federal Government should reverse the decision immediately and refrain from further assault on press freedom, freedom of expression and free speech.

She said, “The suspension of Twitter is antithetical to democratic principles and it portends great threat to the freedom of speech and expression. Twitter, as well as other social media platforms, has emerged as a veritable tool for fostering direct and deliberative democracy by providing a space for citizens to express their opinions, ask difficult questions and demand accountability from their leaders. Interestingly, the Nigerian government also employs the Twitter platform to engage with citizens on public policy matters.

“This decision coupled with the ill-thought-out policy directive on licensing of OTT platforms sends a dangerous signal to the world that Nigeria is not open for investments, particularly in the technology and entertainment sector.

“These two sectors have experienced steady growth in recent years and created value through job creation for young people and sustained exports from Nigeria.

“It is our considered opinion that the suspension of Twitter affirms the shrinking civic space in Nigeria. Democracy cannot thrive in an oppressed civic space where the government opposes any form of dissent or opposition and shuts down easy and accessible channels of communication at will.

“To this end, we call on the Federal Government to reverse this decision immediately and to refrain from further assault on press freedom, freedom of expression and free speech.

“Yiaga Africa urges other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc to continue to uphold their commitment to sanitising the digital ecosystem by eliminating all forms of hate and harmful content on their platforms regardless of the status of the individuals or groups utilising their platforms to propagate hate speech and misinformation.”

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