Nigeria: dozens of civil society groups demand end to Twitter ban

Social media has been vital in protest campaigns like #EndSARS © AFP via Getty Images

Seventy groups in joint condemnation of blocking of Twitter after President Buhari’s tweet deleted

UN and African Union called on to intervene

Social media has been vital in protest campaigns like #EndSARS

Dozens of human rights and civil society groups have demanded an end to the Nigerian government’s ongoing blocking of Twitter in the country. 

The groups - including Amnesty International, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria - have also condemned a “directive” issued by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission for all broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.

On 4 June, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and Culture announced a ban on Twitter and directed internet service providers in the country to block access to the site. The move came after a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari’s was deleted by Twitter. 

The Nigerian authorities are also intending to force social media platforms to register in Nigeria and comply with local regulations before they are licensed to operate. Other planned restrictions include legislative bills (the “Hate Speech Bill and “Social Media Bill”) which could see severe punishments, including the death penalty.

Social media platforms have played a significant part in campaigns for justice and accountability in Nigeria in recent years, notably #EndSARs protests last year. The coalition of civil society groups say they are “seriously concerned” at an escalating crackdown on human rights by the Nigerian government - particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom - and they “strongly condemn the arbitrary and unlawful” suspension of Twitter.

The suspension of Twitter is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 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 70 human rights and civil society groups are urging the international community - including the United Nations 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. They are also calling 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 right to freedom of expression

Groups protesting against ban

Amnesty International Nigeria
CISLAC (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre)
Global Rights
Nigeria Mourns 
Business and Human Rights Roundtable 
Tap Initiative for citizens development
Civil Society Consortium on Civic Space
Centre for Democracy and Development
Alliances for Africa
WILPF Nigeria
Echoes of Women in Africa Initiatives
Akubeze Okocha, B.E.E Initiative
Access to Justice
Sterling Centre for Law & Development
Concerned Nigerians
JENNON-PIUS & Co Initiative 
Education as a Vaccine
Invictus Africa
Dinidari Foundation
Raising New Voices Initiative
Centre for Impact Advocacy
Stand To End Rape Initiative
The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact
Dorothy Njemanze Foundation
Deaf Women Aloud Initiative
Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development
Sesor Empowerment Foundation
Legal Defence and Assistance Project
CLEEN Foundation
Centre for Democratic Research and Training
Zero-Corruption Coalition
National Procurement Watch Platform
Community Action for Popular Participation
Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress
Tax Justice and Governance Platform
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Women in Nigeria
State of the Union
Organisation Community Civic Engagement
Say NO Campaign-Nigeria
Women in Media 
Civil Rights Concern 
Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability
International Press Centre
Enough is Enough
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy 
African Women in Media
Social Action
Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action
Rainbow Watch and Development Centre
Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre 
Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative 
Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa
Yiaga Africa
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project
Bauchi Human Rights Network
Edo Civil Society Organisations
Avocats Sans Frontières France
The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria
Elixir Trust Foundation
International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation
Women, Law and Development Initiative Africa
Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy
Paradigm Initiative
Minority Gender Action
Partners west Africa

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