GEOFFREY ONYEAMA, NIGERIA’S FOREIGN MINISTER, at a meeting with foreign diplomats, in his office in Abuja, on Monday, said Buhari’s government is in discussions with Twitter on efforts toward resolving the ban on Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.  He said government would see how negotiations progress before making further decisions.

United State, United Kingdom, Canada, Republic of Ireland and European Union envoys, at the meeting, restated that the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria violates freedom of expression.  Oyeama invited the envoys to the meeting over comments by the ambassadors, at the weekend, on the suspension of the microblogging site in Nigeria.

On Saturday, the ambassadors statement said: “The diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America convey our disappointment over the Government of Nigeria’s announcement suspending #Twitter and proposing registration requirements for other social media.

“We strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline.  Banning systems of expression is not the answer. These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


AFTER MEETING WITH ONYEAMA, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, speaking on behalf of the envoys, restated the earlier position of the ambassadors that the ban on Twitter’s operations by Nigerian government violates freedom of expression of Nigerians, irrespective of the concerns by the government that the platform is being used to perpetrate hate speech and criminality.

She said: “We recognize the official position of the Nigerian government on the responsible use of social media but we remain firm in our position that free access to information is very important and perhaps more important during troubled times.

“We are here as partners and we want to see Nigeria succeed. It’s very clear that we are Nigeria’s strongest partners on issues of security and we recognise the daunting times in the way of the security challenges that confront Nigeria. While they are daunting, they are not insurmountable and part of the way to surmount them is the partnership of the people you see represented here.”

Leonard added that the envoys were optimistic that Buhari’s government would arrive at common ground in its discussions with Twitter