The federal government has disclosed that it will be holding a meeting on Monday with foreign diplomats over the Twitter suspension in the country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama had summoned the diplomats for a meeting in the capital Abuja, after the European Union and several countries issued a joint statement voicing concerns with the Twitter suspension.
The Nigerian Government sensing how their decision could depicts the already fragile Buhari-led administration in a bad light, was quick to call for a meeting to bring the Foreign countries on their side against the public.
Buhari had on Friday announced the Twitter suspension for sanctioning President Buhari’s civil war tweets.
In a statement issued on Monday, the government said that “Following the recent ban on Twitter by the Federal Government and Press Statement issued by some Heads of Diplomatic Missions Accredited to Nigeria on the subject matter, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency, Geoffrey Onyeama has invited the affected Ambassadors to a Meeting.”
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama said that his meeting with the ambassadors was based on finding a lasting solution to internet insecurity.
According to him, it is the responsibility of the government to provide security to its citizens.
He advised Nigerians to be cautious of how they use social media to help improve government policies in the state.
However, he failed to comment on when the federal government will lift the ban placed on the operations of Twitter in the country.
“We have to take every measure to ensure all these are observed,” he said.
“Banning systems of expression is not the answer,” the EU, US, Britain, Canada and Ireland said in the statement late on Saturday.
The statement added it was “precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
International human rights groups have also condemned the move, which followed previous attempts by the government to regulate social media.
“VPN app” was the second most searched trend on Saturday on Google in Nigeria, as virtual private networks can enable Twitter users to bypass the ban.
Government warned however that it would prosecute violators.
“Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami has directed for immediate prosecution of offenders of the federal government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria,” spokesman Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said.
The platform has played an important role in public discourse in the country, with hashtags #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014, and #EndSARS during anti-police brutality protests last year.