Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has said the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other countries which criticised the Federal Government for suspending the operations of Twitter in Nigeria are hypocrites and dishonest.
Mohammed said this in an interview programme on Friday.
The Federal Government announced the suspension of Twitter last Friday, two days after the microblogging site deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari after it was deemed to have “violated the Twitter rules”.
In a statement by Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, the ban placed on Twitter was due to the “persistent use” of the platform in purportedly encouraging activities that “undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
Reacting, the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and the EU had in both individual statements from their envoys and in a joint statement opposed the suspension of Twitter, saying the action of the government is a clampdown on the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression.
According to them, the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right granted to Nigerians, adding that the banning of the microblogging platform is not the answer to whatever grouse the government perceives to have with the social media giant.
But speaking on the statement of the foreign missions in Nigeria, Mohammed said the countries made their comments mainly on economic reasons and not because they loved Nigeria.
The minister stated that both the EU and the UK were already working on social media regulations and wondered why Nigeria was being accused of stifling free speech.
“The EU has recommended the same thing and Britain only on Wednesday spoke about a law that would regulate the social media. This is why I say they are being hypocritical,” Mohammed said on NTA’s Good Morning Nigeria.
“Like I said, I don’t like commenting on issues that have to do with relations with Nigeria and other countries but clearly speaking, they are being less than honest.”
Mohammed asked Nigerians not to be deceived by foreign missions condemning the suspension of Twitter.
He said: “We have seen so many foreign missions come up to condemn the action of Nigeria. Nigerians, please, make a distinction between countries that are trying to protect their economic and commercial interests from those countries that genuinely love you and talking about freedom of speech and don’t forget for one minute that it is because there is a country called Nigeria that there is freedom of speech.”
The minister maintained that the Federal Government did not suspend Twitter because it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, which many found offensive.
He also dismissed complaints that Nigerians are losing money as a result of the platform’s suspension, saying that it is only when there is peace that business can take place.