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Twitter operation ban remain indefinite – FG

By Idowu Abdullahi

Nigerian tweeps, particularly those whose’s ventures thrive on social media may have to count their losses after the Federal Government indicated that ban placed on American microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, operations across the country would continue indefinitely in protecting the nation’s sovereignty.

It explained that the government would continue to do all within its power in protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity from internal and external aggression and defend the country’s unity irrespective of avenues being explored by divisive elements.

As gathered, the federal government’s position followed the meeting between the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Enyeama, with some of the top envoys of various Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria on Monday in Abuja. Envoys present at the meeting included those of Canada, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.

It was also learnt that the meeting was convened by the federal government to allow the foreign missions clarify their joint position on the suspension of microblogging site in the country and also give the government opportunity in explaining the rationale behind its decision.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Onyeama said that the deliberations afforded both parties opportunity to delve into the issue at hand and give their informed position on the development, adding that through the meeting the situation was reviewed.

He said that he took his time during the meeting to outline concerns that led to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive banning operations of the social media giant, adding that the president was not oblivious of roles social media plays in the 21st century.

Onyeama noted that since social media negative impact could threaten the country’s unity, Buhari has no choice but to wield the big stick in maintaining Nigeria’s unity.

According to him, the duration of the Twitter suspension, cannot be determined for now because the responsibility of the government in a democracy is to protect law, order, and human lives.

“There are discussions ongoing with Twitter, we will see how that progresses, so I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension,” Onyeama said after a meeting with diplomats on the issue.

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

Responding on behalf of other envoys, the US Ambassador, Mary-beth Leonards, assured that the diplomatic missions would do everything to ensure Nigeria’s success, saying they were willing to partner with the government in surmounting the insecurity challenges.

“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,” she said.

“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 way to surmount them is the partnership of the people you see represented here,” Leonard added.

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