State Department Scolds Nigeria For Banning Twitter, Says Right To ‘Disseminate Opinions’ Is Crucial

Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The U.S. State Department condemned Nigeria’s Twitter suspension in a press statement Thursday, saying the inability for Nigerians to freely express themselves is undemocratic.

The Nigerian government announced the nation was suspending Twitter on June 4 and threatening arrest to any citizen that uses the platform after the president’s account was temporarily banned. Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesperson, said the U.S. condemns the ongoing suspension.

“The United States condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter,” Price said. “The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.”

Price called on Nigeria to reverse the suspension saying it is a violation of a citizen’s right to freely report information and express their opinions. (RELATED: Trump Congratulates Nigeria For Banning Twitter, Says ‘More COUNTRIES Should Ban Twitter And Facebook’)  

“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy. Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” he said. “We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension.”

Twitter suspended Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2 for posting threatening to respond to a militant group called the Eastern Security Network (ESN) which seeks to establish a separate country named Biafra in Nigeria’s southeastern regions. Twitter suspended Buhari for violating its “abusive behavior” policy, which states that a user is forbidden to “engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so,” Twitter says.