Groups, under the auspices of the Civil Society Consortium on Civic Space, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the suspension of the Twitter operation in Nigeria.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had announced the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria on Friday.
The suspension of the social networking service in the country came days after Twitter deleted a post by the President on the civil war experience.
In a statement jointly issued on Saturday, the groups said it had opened a conversation with other groups to consider the next line of action on the decision of the Nigerian government to close the civic space.
They said it was shameful that the Nigerian government, in its desperation to destroy the largest democracy in Africa, explored undemocratic means not just to gag its citizens but to subdue them.
The statement read, “The Civil Society Consortium on Civic Space received with consternation the news of the decision of the regime of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Twitter in Nigeria.
“Over the years, Twitter has become one of the drivers of freedom of expression, speech and Assembly not just in Nigeria but worldwide. It is shameful that in its desperate bid and determination to destroy the largest democracy in Africa, the Federal Government of Nigeria is exploring undemocratic means not just to gag its citizens but to subdue them.
“The Buhari-led regime has consistently demonstrated its lack of temperament and intellectual capacity to govern a modern democracy where dissenting voices matter. He should either resign or let the citizens know that he has staged a coup against his own democratically elected government by announcing himself as a military junta; that way, we can deal with the administration as such.”
The groups said criticism remained the bedrock of modern democracy, adding that any president who does not have the temperament to accept criticism from dissenting voices has no right to be in power.
They explained that the suspension of Twitter was not just illegality but an attack on free speech and the rights of every citizen.
“According to Statista, 61.4% of about 28million social media users in Nigeria in 2020 use it for business, communication, entertainment, professional development, among others. Therefore, this ban on Twitter and the proposed regulation of OTT will not help businesses thrive in an already battered economy with no responsive leadership.
“The Federal Government, led by President Buhari, cannot continue to pick and choose which part of the constitution he wants to obey when he indeed swore to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We, therefore, call on General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to immediately reverse the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria,” the groups added.
The groups include the African Centre For Information and Literacy (AFRICML), Global Rights Nigeria, Dataphyte, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Al-habibiyyah Islamic Society, Inibehe Effiong Chambers, Cross River Watch.
Others are the Nigerian Bar Association, Unity Bar, Advocacy Centre For Development, Network of Yobe Civil Society Organizations, Yobe Association of NGOs, Gombe State, Gombe Emirate Council, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy, Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism, International Centre For Investigative Journalism and others.