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Nigeria in talks with Twitter over ban as it meets U.S officials in Abuja

A man used his mobile phone to read headline news on Twitter inside an office in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday June 7, 2021.   -  
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Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


Nigerian officials and U.S diplomatic officials met on Monday over the former’s ban on Twitter in the country.

The suspension of the social media giant has sparked global outcry over what they call a threat to freedom of expression.

Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said Africa’s most populous nation is concerned about the platform being ‘’used for destabilization.’’

"Why we've taken this measure is to see to what extent we can rebalance these media as forces of good and stop them being used as platforms for destabilization", Onyeama said.

Twitter has yet to official comment on the ban, but says it was ''deeply concerned'' about the suspension of its services in the country, and that it would work "to restore access for all''.

At Monday's meeting, US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard said the diplomatic community was firm in its position.

"[We] recognize that there are issues of responsible use of social media but we remain firm on our position that free access to the ability to express oneself is actually very important", the US Ambassador to Nigeria said.

Nigeria has said it was in talks with Twitter after it suspended its services in the Africa's most populous nation.

Earlier on Monday, the country's National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) directed all TV and radio stations to "suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately".

In a statement, NBC's director Armstrong Idachaba said "Broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering for news."

Idachaba said "It would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronize the suspended Twitter as a source of its information."

Twitter has played a significant role in public discourse in Nigeria, with hashtags #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014, and #EndSARS during anti-police brutality protests last year.

Some Nigerian broadcasters are concerned the clampdown on Twitter is part of more general crackdown against the media.

According to NOI polls, a public opinion and research organization, over 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account. In April, Twitter announced that it was setting up its Africa headquarters in Ghana. The number of Twitter account holders in Nigeria is more than the population for its neighboring country, Ghana.

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