By Dayo Olujuwon
The United States, US, Consulate in Lagos have described the suspension of twitter in Nigeria and intention to introduce registration requirements for other social media platforms as deeply worrisome and advised journalists to be vigilant.
US Consul-General, Claire Pierangelo made this statement, Wednesday, at a program, entitled “Conversation on Press Freedom, Freedom of Expression and Civic Space in Nigeria,” in Lagos.
She stated that the government’s intention to introduce registration requirements for social media platforms, banning or restricting social media with threats of prosecution, undermined the human rights and fundamental freedom of Nigerians.
She said: “Nigerian government’s ongoing suspension of Twitter and stated intent to introduce registration requirements for other social media platforms is deeply worrisome.
“Banning or significantly restricting social media, including under threat of prosecution, undermines Nigerians’ human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are encouraged by the meetings between Twitter and the government technical committee last week aimed at resolving the suspension.”
Speaking on the right to freedom of expression, and press freedom, she has called on journalists to remain vigilant.
In her words: “In view of these recent developments, you — reporters, editors, media executives, and civil society representatives — must remain vigilant to protect the right to freedom of expression and press freedom.
“To fulfill its highest civic purpose, the press must be both independent and unbiased. Without independence, a media outlet functions as a public relations mouthpiece for the government and other powerful interests.
“In the same breath, history is full of cautionary tales showing that when governments try to limit citizens’ right to talk about certain topics, important conversations are pushed into the shadows allowing individuals to express their opinions — no matter how much the government and other citizens may disagree with them. Rigorous debate promotes transparency and social stability.”