A coalition of 70 civil society organisations has condemned the decision of the federal government to suspend Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how the government banned the microblogging site for allegedly threatening the country’s corporate existence.
But in a joint statement through Isa Sanusi, media manager for Amnesty International Nigeria, the groups demanded the immediate reversal of the ban, describing such as undemocratic.
According to the groups, the development is another indication of the worsening violation of human rights by the extant administration in the country.
They also condemned the “directive” issued by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for all broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.
The statement read: “We, the undersigned civil society organisations are concerned about the repression and escalating crackdown on human rights by the Nigerian government, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.
“We strongly condemn the arbitrary and unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, by the authorities, and the resulting restrictions on the human rights of people, as well as the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in Nigeria.
“We are concerned about an alarming backsliding on human rights across Nigeria as the Federal Government and state authorities continue to use the criminal justice system and repression to silence peaceful dissent, while failing to ensure accountability for violations of rights. People continue to suffer repressive measures including unlawful surveillance and harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and unfair trials.
“The Nigerian authorities have continued to propose laws to regulate the social media, and restrict the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, including through legislative bills popularly known as the ‘Hate Speech Bill’ and ‘The Social Media Bill’ which both provide severe punitive sanctions such as the death penalty in some cases, for social media users convicted of ‘crimes’ provided under them.
“The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“The Nigerian authorities have continued to fail in their obligation to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of its own people.
“We therefore call on the Nigerian authorities to: Immediately rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and withdraw the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country.
“Immediately withdraw the directive to broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts. End widespread impunity for human rights violations, in particular the rights to freedom of expression including online, access to information and media freedom.
“We also urge the international community, including the UN and the African Union to publicly condemn the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to reverse the decision.”
The statement was signed by the following organisations:
Amnesty International Nigeria
CISLAC (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre)
Business and Human Rights Roundtable
Tap Initiative for citizens development
Civil society consortium on civic space
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
Alliances for Africa
Echoes of Women in Africa Initiatives
Akubeze Okocha, B.E.E Initiative
Access to Justice
Sterling Centre for Law & Development
JENNON-PIUS &Co initiative
Education as a Vaccine
Raising New Voices Initiative
Centre for Impact Advocacy (CIA)
Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER)
The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact.
Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)
Deaf Women Aloud Initiative
Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development
Sesor Empowerment Foundation
Legal Defence and Assistance Project -LEDAP
Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT)
Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC)
National Procurement Watch Platform
Community Action for Popular Participation
Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP)
Tax Justice and Governance Platform
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Women in Nigeria
State of the Union (SOTU)
Organization Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN)
Say NO Campaign—Nigeria
Women in Media
Civil Rights Concern
Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Enough is Enough (EiE)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).
African Women in Media
Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA).
Rainbow Watch and Development Centre
Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative
Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution.
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA)
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Bauchi Human Rights Network (BAHRN)
Edo Civil Society Organisations
Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) France
The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN)
Elixir Trust Foundation
International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation (I-REF)
Women, Law and Development Initiative Africa (WOLDI Africa)
Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA)
Minority Gender Action (Mingenac)
Partners west Africa