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Foreign envoys who were invited to hold talks with the Nigerian government in Abuja yesterday over the suspension of Twitter were not swayed by the justification for the action which led to their insistence that the suspension on the platform should be reversed.
Ambassador of the United States of America to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, who spoke on behalf of other western envoys said they remain firm in their position that free access to the ability to express self is very important and perhaps more important in troubled times.
According to Leonard, the U.S. and other partners would continue to engage with Nigeria to uphold human rights and the rule of law.
‘I thank the minister for inviting us here today because that is what partners do. Talk about shared goals. We did speak about the issues of social media and our concerns.
‘We have to be very clear that we are Nigeria’s strong partners on issues of security and we recognise the daunting task on the issues of security that confronts Nigeria.
‘While they are daunting, they are not insurmountable, and part of the way you surmount them is with the partnership of the people you see represented here.
‘We recognise that there are issues of irresponsible use of social media, but we remain firm in our position that free access to the ability to express self is very important and perhaps more important in troubled times,’ she emphasized.
Leonard expressed satisfaction that the Nigerian government and Twitter were in talks.
She said many of the things Foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama referred to, including incitements and violence, were crimes the Nigerian government has legitimate right to prosecute.
‘We encourage them to use judicial processes within the scope of respect for human rights and the rule of law and restrain such behaviours,‘ Leonard said.
Onyeama had told the envoys that Nigeria’s suspension of Twitter is in the interest of national security and peace.
Onyeama made the government position known at the end of a closed-door meeting he held with the ambassadors and representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, and the EU.
He told newsmen that President Muhammadu Buhari was keen on ensuring the peace and security of Nigerians and Nigeria.
The minister stressed that the government’s major objective was to advocate responsible use of social media platforms that would not destabilise the peace and unity of the country.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK