The Commonwealth has said that it is closely monitoring developments around the suspension of Twitter as well as allegations of repression of the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, media freedom and disregard for the rule of law in the country.
This follows an urgent appeal to the international body by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on June 6, asking them to apply the Commonwealth Charter to hold the Nigerian government to account over the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and the resulting repression of freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.
This disclosure was made by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland QC, in a response letter dated July 22, 2021, and sent to SERAP.
Scotland in the latter said she had been following the developments in Nigeria very closely and was engaging the relevant stakeholders.
What the Commonwealth is saying
The letter signed on behalf of the Secretary-General by Roger Koranteng, Officer in Charge, Governance and Peace Directorate, partly reads, “Please be assured that the Secretariat will remain engaged with the authorities in Nigeria and encourage a speedy resolution of this matter.
“All Commonwealth member countries including Nigeria have committed themselves to upholding freedom of expression as one of the core values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, which underscores a commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights covenants and international instruments.”
What you should know
- It can be recalled that earlier in June, the Federal Government suspended the operations of Twitter indefinitely in the country citing double standards by the microblogging and social media platform, and the persistent use of the platform for activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
- The suspension was announced, days after Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly violating its policy.
- Also, the Nigerian government had sought powers to regulate private broadcasting in the country using the internet and other online outlets, a move that has been criticized by the civil society organizations and other stakeholders.