Blocking access to Twitter in Nigeria is a flagrant violation of fundamental rights

Originally published June 5, 2021

Access Now deplores the government of Nigeria’s suspension of Twitter operations in the country, and demands all services be fully reinstated for all. Authorities implemented the shutdown on June 4 citing “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” 

This “indefinite” suspension comes amidst a wave of online oppression following both the #EndSARS protests that were globally trending on Twitter last October and Twitter’s more recent decision to remove President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet threatening genocide on Nigerian citizens in the south. It also builds on longstanding efforts to pass regressive social media regulation, including a government directive to tax so-called over-the-top (OTT) services.

Update: July 2, 2021

The #KeepItOn coalition is again calling on authorities in Nigeria to immediately rescind Twitter’s “indefinite” suspension. 

Since Twitter was blocked on June 4, people across the nation have been unable to access the social media platform without circumvention tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), while civil society has risen to defend freedom of expression through a series of legal actions. Last month, a coalition of over 170 civil society actors and individuals led by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project  challenged the government’s threat to arrest and prosecute anybody violating the Twitter ban. On June 22, they won, and authorities are restrained from “unlawfully” prosecuting people for using Twitter until further notice. Access Now congratulates all involved on this victory for free speech.

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