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JUST IN: FG summons US, UK envoys, others over comments on Twitter ban

The Federal Government has summoned the envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union in Nigeria over their recent comments on the suspension of microblogging site Twitter in Nigeria.

This was contained in an invitation to pressmen issued on Monday morning by Kimiebi Ebienfa of the Crisis Monitoring and Public Communications Division of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The invitation reads: “I am directed to inform that following the recent ban on Twitter by the Federal Government and Press Statement issued by some Heads of Diplomatic Missions Accredited to Nigeria on the subject matter, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency, Geoffrey Onyeama has invited the affected Ambassadors to a meeting today at 12 noon.

“The venue is Minister’s Conference Room, 8th Floor.

“You are hereby invited to cover the meeting. Thanks for your usual cooperation”

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A joint statement had earlier been issued on Saturday by Canada, EU, UK, US, and the Republic of Ireland saying the banning systems of expression is not the way forward.

Their statement reads: “Joint Statement From The Diplomatic Missions Of Canada, The European Union (Delegation To Nigeria), The Republic Of Ireland, The United Kingdom And The United States Of America

“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.

“The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity, peace and prosperity.

“As Nigeria’s partners, we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.”

The Nigerian Government banned twitter from the country after it accused it of “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”

Twitter had however expressed concern at the ban and thereafter deleted some of Nnamdi Kanu’s tweets which it had earlier approved.

As it stands, Nigerians are still unable to access the microblogging platform as the Federal Government has effectively ensured all Internet Services Providers blocked the Twitter URL from their network.

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