TOP politicians have condemned the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, describing it as a blight on the nation’s freedom of speech.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed had, in a statement on Friday, said the ban was due to “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
He also ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to compel all over-the-top media services and social media operations in Nigeria to apply for permits to operate.
Twitter had deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, where he threatened to treat Nigerians ‘misbehaving’ in ‘the language they would understand.’ Buhari’s statement has attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians.
The ICIR gleaned reactions from several politicians on the ban of Twitter in the country after the Federal Government enforced the suspension on June 5.
Former senator and rights activist Shehu Sani described the ban as a stain on the Federal Government’s legacy.
Dino Melaye, who also represented Kogi West Senatorial district at the 8th Assembly in the Senate, on his Facebook page said, “President Buhari should learn from former US President Donald Trump who got suspended from Twitter but did not shut down the platform in his country.”
“Buhari should learn from Trump. Ordinary Delete na im vex you like this. Na im be say if dem suspend you you go collect our phones. Yeye dey smell,” he stated in Pidgin English.
A former president of the Senate and two-time governor of Kwara State Bukola Saraki called for the review of the ban on Twitter by President Buhari, which he said was part of the daily lives of Nigerian youths.
“No sir! This should not be the response from the President of the nation with a vibrant youthful population for whom#Twitter is part of their lives and a source of income and livelihood,” he said.
Twitter is popular with young urban Nigerians, ranking as the sixth-most used social-media platform in the country.
In April, Twitter announced it was setting up its African office in Ghana, which raised a furore among Nigerians for ditching Africa’s most populous nation.
Singer turned politician Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, in a tweet also condemned the government’s decision to ban Twitter.
“And where are all our elected Reps and Senators that are supposed to represent us? Are they all going to continue to stay silent? The government is called ‘Public Service’ because they’re meant to ‘serve’ the public.
“They’ve turned government into a shortcut to wealth and a retirement home,” he tweeted.
Governorof Oyo State Seyi Makinde has also joined voices to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the decision to ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“This is a fundamental point that should be kept in mind as we debate the necessity of this suspension.
“We should also remember that Twitter has gone beyond a source of communication for many of our hardworking youths in Nigeria. It has become a source of livelihood for many, irrespective of their political affiliations or religious leanings,” he said, in a statement on Saturday.
Twitter is currently banned in countries such as Iran, China, Turkey and was recently accused by the Indian Government of not complying with its rules.
However, Nigerians can still bypass the ban and access Twitter using virtual private networks (VPN).