Nigeria: Group Reacts to Blocked #EndSARS Websites

3 December 2020

Paradigm Initiative, an advocacy group, is concerned about the alleged secret blocking of the domain names of #EndSARS related websites by the Nigerian government.

Websites related to the #EndSARS campaign have been inaccessible as reported by many Nigerians and from independent checks carried out by Paradigm Initiative.

According to the advocacy group, the attempts of blocking the websites would be resisted because they are unacceptable violation of constitutionally and globally guaranteed rights of freedom of expression and access to information.

The group therefore called on the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to rise in defense of the Nigerian citizens.

In a statement issued by the group, it said: "In a similar development that occurred in October 2017, we monitored and challenged the Nigerian government's censorship directive through the Nigerian Communications Commission, an agency which is supposedly independent.

"The NCC must not continue to offer itself to be used by the federal government under any guise to intimidate citizens who engage in legitimate protests and exercise their digital rights by leveraging digital platforms for the protest."

While commenting on the development, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, said: "Paradigm Initiative has sent a Freedom of Information request to the NCC to answer key questions such as who ordered the recent blocking of websites, the reason for the blocking, disruption, or restriction on these websites.

"We want to know under which legal provision this is being carried out and if the NCC authorised the blocking, disruption, or restriction of these websites. We also need to know if the owners of the websites were informed that their websites will be blocked, and if they were given an opportunity for a fair hearing. Another question that must be answered is: Did the NCC act independently or was it acting on behalf of other government institutions?"

Sesan further stated that "in a country with increasingly closed civic spaces and one that must do more work to protect freedom of expression and press freedom, a dangerous precedent could be set if the NCC continues to carry out the restriction of access to websites that are critical of government or that support citizens' right to contribute to our democracy."

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