The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has stated that no conditions have been given yet for the lifting of the ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
This is according to a statement from the ministry issued on Monday titled: “Clarification of comments by the honourable minister of foreign affairs at his meeting with envoys.”
The statement was signed by Ferdinand Nwonye, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and reads:
“The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to misleading reports by several media outlets (not Nigerian Tribune) published today, Monday, 7th June 2021, in which the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama was misquoted as giving conditions for lifting the Twitter suspension.
“The Honourable Minister after a meeting with some Heads of Diplomatic Missions resident in Nigeria was quoted to have said that ‘Twitter’s operations in Nigeria will be restored only if the platform can be used responsibly’.
“This statement by the Honourable Minister has been quoted out of context.
“Contrary to the publications, the Honourable Minister was speaking generally about the responsibilities that go with freedom of speech, stating that platforms that have the power to instantly disseminate information among billions of people have the added responsibility to exercise that power responsibly.
“The Ministry wishes to state categorically that the Honourable Minister did not give any conditions regarding lifting the Twitter suspension.”
Prior to issuing the statement, Nigerian Tribune reports that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyema said the Federal Government takes “very seriously” the statement issued by the US, UK, Canada and the European Union on the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
Onyema said this on Monday in a meeting with ambassadors and high commissioners of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and the European Union over their comments on Nigeria’s suspension of Twitter.
Meeting with the countries’ envoys in Abuja, Onyeama said it is important for the federal government to discuss the suspension with the missions “in our usual friendly way.”
He said before the meeting continued behind closed doors that it is important for Nigeria to “share opinions” with the missions “out of respect.”
“Out of respect and in view of the relationship that we have with your countries, I felt it was absolutely right and appropriate to take your comments very seriously and to meet with you for us to, in our usual friendly way, discuss and share opinions with respect to that and clarify certain things,” he said.
“It is for that reason that we have invited you here not “summoned”, invited to discuss some of these issues.”
(Cambridge University Press, January, 2021) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN, FCIArb, Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti
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