Home NewsNational News US, UK, Canada, others insist on position, FG begs for understanding

But the Federal Government at the meeting with US, UK and Canada on Monday pleaded with them for support and understanding over its decision to ban Twitter, saying it was already in discussion with the mirco- logging site.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, spoke on behalf of the five envoys and their representatives in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama.

Leonard, who told the minister that access to social media by citizens was germane to freedom of speech, which in turn is a prerequisite for a democratic culture, also advised the Nigerian government to identify those who committed crimes and use judicial processes to deal with offenders, adding “but to constrain, that is not the behaviour.”

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The envoy also said that they were glad to hear that Nigeria was interacting with Twitter.

“We recognise 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”, Leonard stressed.

The envoy said further that it was actually in troubled times that there was the need for individual expression and open conversation and accountability.

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“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 ways to surmount them is the partnership of the people you see represented here”, the envoy stated.

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Onyeama confirmed that the Nigerian government was in dialogue with Twitter on the best ways to resolve the matter and perhaps lift the ban.

“As you yourself have said, discussions are ongoing with Twitter, we want to see how that progresses. So I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension. There are conversations with our partners and with the social media platform”, he stated.

The minister told the envoys that the Federal Government was not against the use of social media but wanted to see it use for global good and responsible communications.

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He said, “We know the power of words and when you have that kind of power to manage and facilitate communication to billions of people, it has to come with responsibility. So, we are taking this measure to see to what extent we can rebalance the media as forces of good and stop them being used as a platform for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality.

Onyeama, who said that the meeting was meant to clarify issues, said, “We are asking them to also support us as we confront all these challenges and we have listened to their opinions.

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“You were all aware when Mr President was elected, security was number one on the list of his priorities and it is something he really wants to deliver for the people of Nigeria. Without security everything else fails. Investment will not come and lives will be displaced.”

The minister said social media had many advantages, adding that the communication revolution should not be use to destabilise the country.

He stated, “We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing like that. That is not the justification. The justification for taking this measure is to see to what extent we can rebalance the media as forces of good and stop them from being used as a platform for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality and encouragement of criminality.”

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Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday issued more directives on its ban on Twitter as the National Broadcasting Commission ordered broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect.

The Acting Director General of the NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba, issued the directives in a statement titled, ‘Suspend Twitter handles.’

The commission directed the broadcast stations to “de- install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in.

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“Consequent on the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission directs all broadcasting stations in Nigeria to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.

“In compliance to the above directive, broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de- install Twitter handles and desist from using twitter as a source of information gathering for news and programmes presentation especially phone-in.”

He cited the relevant sections of the NBC Act to justify his directives.

SOURCE : PUNCH

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