Telecom operators enforce Twitter ban in Nigeria, on orders of govt

Telecom operators in Nigeria, acting on the orders of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have executed the Twitter ban in Nigeria, by blocking subscribers’ access to the social networking platform in the country.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria is the umbrella body for telecom operators in the country. ALTON issued a statement confirming that the Federal Government has indeed directed that operators suspend access to Twitter immediately and that their members are complying. Below is the body of the ALTON press statement, dated 5th June 2021.

Telcos enforce Twitter ban in Nigeria

“We, The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.

“ALTON has conducted robust assessment of the directive in accordance with internationally accepted principles. Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commisison (NCC) the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.

“We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.”

The ALTON statement was signed by Gbenga Adebayo (Chairman) and Gbolahan Awonuga (Executive Secretary) of the association.

As at this morning (5th of June 2021), Twitter users in Nigeria began to report being unable to access and update on the app through their MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile Internet connections. They reported being able to tweet only after installing and connecting to a VPN.

Twitter users in the country are bent on continuing to access the platform despite government’s censorship.

Beyond being a platform for Nigerians to freely express their frustrations with government, Twitter is also a source of income for tens of thousands of individuals and small businesses. All of those business concerns are at risk of collapsing die to the ban.

In response to the bypassing of the government blockade, it has been reported that the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, has ordered the arrest, prosecution of Nigerians still using Twitter.

Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State in South western Nigeria, has advised that the FG reconsider the Twitter ban in Nigeria. In a series of tweets posted this morning (supposedly via a VPN as well), he listed out reasons why the ban is a bad idea and should be lifted.

According to Makinde, “Twitter has become the platform for young people and indeed all Nigerians to exercise their fundamental right to express and publish an opinion. They use the platform to complain, argue and give feedback to government and its agencies who in turn, use these to improve policies.

“This is a fundamental point that should be kept in mind as we debate the necessity of this suspension.”

Twitter’s has officially responded to the ban. “We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn”, a statement said.

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