The U.S. government has called on the federal government of Nigeria to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing the indefinite suspension of Twitter.
The United States made the call on Thursday condemning the Nigerian government for its decision and targeting individuals who use the social media site, including Nigerian broadcasters.
“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” the statement read
“We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension,” the U.S. added.
The Nigerian government suspended Twitter’s activities in the country last Friday after the social media giant deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which it deemed as inciting violence.
Rights activists and opposition parties have criticised the government for its decision, but the Nigerian government said it was to protect the corporate existence of the country.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said violators of the ban who continue to use Twitter will be charged to court.
On Monday, Nigeria’s broadcasting regulator directed all TV and radio stations to delete their Twitter accounts and described its use as unpatriotic, a move media experts categorised as an illegal one.
The Nigerian government, however, continued its controversial move to regulate social media platforms on Thursday when it asked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others to apply for broadcast licenses.
“I will keep that to myself,” Mr Buhari said about his stance on the Twitter ban, in an Arise TV exclusive interview broadcast on Thursday morning.