The U.S. Department of State on Thursday condemned the Nigerian government for suspending Twitter and targeting individuals who use the social media site, including Nigerian broadcasters, and called for the African nation to reverse its decision after Twitter temporarily froze Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's account for violating its "abusive behavior" policy, according to Axios.
"Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy. Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Price observed that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission had ordered all television and radio broadcasters to stop using Twitter, also calling it a ''concern.''
The country banned the social media platform — often used to voice government-related concerns or opinions — despite the fact that it is an extremely popular method of communication in Africa's most populous nation.
Nigeria's attorney general and minister of justice directed the country's communications regulator and federal prosecutors over the weekend to start charging and arresting people who circumvent the ban through virtual private networks (VPN), according to Axios.
"We support Nigeria as it works towards unity, peace, and prosperity. As its partner, we call on the government to respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression by reversing this suspension," Price said.
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