Nigeria's Undemocratic Twitter Shutdown Points to a Dangerous Slide Towards Dictatorship

A family is being tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Citizens, regardless of party affiliations and ethnicity, must defend their constitutional right to freedom of expression. These rights have been undermined by President Muhammadu Buhari 's government in its decision to shut down Twitter operations.

Michael Asikabulu is a podcast host at the Public Affairs Research Institute in Johannesburg and a former researcher at the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants (CoRMSA) in South Africa.

The decision of the government of Nigeria on Friday, 4 June 2021 to suspend Twitter operations in the country "shows that the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has suspended Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution", said prominent human rights lawyer and activist Femi Falana (SAN).

Chapter IV of the 1999 constitution refers to the fundamental rights of every Nigerian. Section 39 (1) specifically states that "every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference". The government's undemocratic and unconstitutional decision to suspend Twitter undermines the very fundamentals of any democratic society - the freedom of expression.

This suspension comes in the wake of Twitter's deletion of a tweet by Buhari that violated its "abusive behaviour" policy. The president, in his tweet...

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