Nigeria said on Monday it was in discussions with Twitter after it suspended the US social media giant’s services in the country, branding its use as “unpatriotic”.
The Twitter suspension has provoked an outcry from the international community and rights groups who denounced it as a threat to freedom of expression in Africa’s most populous country.
Nigeria announces talks with Twitter after ban, as Ecowas court bars government crackdown on users,
Nigeria said it was halting the platform’s operations indefinitely on Friday, two days after Twitter deleted a comment from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account referring to civil unrest that the firm said violated its rules.
“There are discussions ongoing with Twitter, we will see how that progresses, so I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension,” Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said after a meeting with diplomats on the issue.
“There are conversations, yes, with our partners. We want to use social media for good.”
Twitter has not yet commented but said earlier that it was “deeply concerned” by Nigeria’s move and that it would work “to restore access for all”.
The announcement also coincided with a ruling by West African regional bloc ECOWAS barring the Nigerian government from arresting and prosecuting Nigerians and corporate bodies for circumventing the Twitter ban.
Nigerian authorities had ordered federal prosecutors to commence legal action against violators of the ban after many Nigerians continued to send tweets using a virtual private network (VPN).
Twitter’s suspension and the planned government crackdown on users of the social media platform were swiftly challenged at a local court by a human rights body, SERAP.
SERAP and a group of journalists and non-governmental organizations also approached the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, describing Twitter’s suspension as well as threats to prosecute Twitter users as “arbitrary” and “unjustified.”
In a ruling Tuesday, Justice Keikura Bangura of the ECOWAS Court ordered “the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its agents to refrain from imposing sanction on any media house or harassing, intimidating, arresting and prosecuting the Applicants, concerned Nigerians for the use of Twitter and other social media platforms,” pending conclusion of the suit filed before the court by the applicants, according to a statement by the ECOWAS.
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