We insist on free access to Twitter, foreign envoys tell Nigeria

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By Henry Okonkwo

Foreign envoys invited for talks by the Nigerian Government in Abuja on Monday over the suspension of Twitter said they were not swayed by the justification for the action.

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.

She said, “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.

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“We recognise that there are issues of the 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.”

Leonard said many of the things Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama referred to, including incitements and violence, were crimes the Nigerian Government has a 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,” she said.

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