The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has suspended access to Twitter, today, Saturday following a regulatory directive aimed at suspending the U.S. social media giant indefinitely, a move criticised by rights campaigners and diplomats as a gag on free speech.
A statement jointly signed by ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and executive secretary, Gbolahan Awonuga, and released this morning June 5, stated that the suspension was based on a directive by the telecommunications industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The statement titled ‘Order to Suspend Access to Twitter’, reads
“We, The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.
ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commisison (NCC) the industry regulator.
We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.
As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications”
Rights group Amnesty International condemned Twitter’s suspension in a tweet and called on Nigerian authorities to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights”.
Gill Atkinson, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, wrote in a tweet on Saturday that “all Nigerians have the right to freedom of speech and the responsibility not to misuse that right”.
“Any action taken by government must be measured, proportionate and not suppress basic freedoms,” she said.