Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, has given a reason for the action of the Nigerian government against Twitter.
The special assistant said in a statement that the spread of fake news is among the reasons for suspending Twitter.
Mr Shehu said there has been a litany of problems with Twitter in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.
The SSA Media and Publicity to the President also added that the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing, claiming that the censoring of the president’s tweet is a result of the micro-blogging site misunderstanding the challenges Nigeria faces today.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.”
The SSA noted that the president has been warning against the disruptive and divisive influences of social media.
He added that the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s “preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.”
Mr Shehu said that the tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.
“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens. When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand,’ he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over,” Mr Shehu said.
Speaking further, Garba Shehu explained that the tweet “is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.”
“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.”
In the meantime, Civil Society Organisation, Paradigm Initiative, said that
“The Nigerian government’s action is at its core, an abuse of the rights of citizens, not just to freedom of expression, but many other rights guaranteed in the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This suspension, which is a reaction of the Nigerian government to the company’s enforcement of its platform rules, is aimed at insulating the government from criticism, especially by Nigeria’s youth who are over 70% of the country’s population”, PIN Said.
Several other organisations and individuals have spoken up against Federal government’s suspension of Twitter operations in the country.
These entities called on the government to reverse its stance, and allow the citizens access to Twitter, as a right.