The continued suspension of the microblogging site Twitter in Nigeria has cost the country about $360 million in economic revenue in the first 100 days of its suspension, according to a group of social enterprises.
Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), and other organizations are part of the coalition that made the announcement.
It also claimed that the government’s claim to promote innovation while simultaneously cracking down on tech companies was incompatible with its economic development strategy.
The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, told journalists in Lagos on the 100th day since the government announced the suspension of Twitter that the ban remains illegal in their opinion because rule of law must prevail in a democratic dispensation.
According to Sesan, the blockade costs the Nigerian economy $250,600 per hour in the last 2,400 hours since the federal government banned the platform in the country, according to NetBlocks’ cost of shutdown tool.
“Suspending Twitter in Nigeria is illegal,” he said emphatically, “and we are saying it categorically because we expect the court to back us up because the order to suspend the telecommunications companies was not made with a court warrant.”
“Perhaps they can now produce a backdated court warrant, but the court was on strike at the time, so there was no way they could have obtained it.”
However, the group, which advocates for digital rights and freedom of speech, claims that the government is fabricating reasons for the suspension’s continuation.
“Please remember that they said the reason for the ban was to free the space from terrorist activities at first, and then they claimed it was now safe,” Sesan added. Why is the suspension still in place if it is now safe?” I wonder.
The coalition also revealed that it has taken steps to urge the government to lift the suspension of Twitter, claiming that the action taken by the federal government in declaring the platform suspended jeopardizes Nigeria’s corporate existence.
According to Ayode Longe, Program Director, Media Right Agenda (MDA), Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria has filed a N5 billion claim in the federal High Court in Lagos on behalf of the companies’ subscribers, including PIN and MRA, over the blocking of access to Twitter.
“We are taking this action because we believe that telecommunications companies do not have the legal authority to block our access to Twitter. Following its announcement calling on all social media platforms operating or seeking to operate in Nigeria to register with the commission and obtain a licence, MRA filed a separate suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), challenging its powers to license social media platforms,” Longe said.
They also claimed that Nigeria has not been the same since June 4, 2021, because the Twitter ban has affected all aspects of social and economic development.
They revealed that “Nigeria has lost at least $360 million in the last 100 days since the Twitter ban.”
Similarly, Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director of Enough is Enough (EIE), said NCDC was one of the government agencies that made excellent use of the platform to disseminate information to the public during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“By shutting down Twitter, you have effectively shut down that effective channel of communication, and we can see the difference because of the post-Delta variant, in which Nigerians are not as engaged as they were during the pandemic’s peak.
“This is also not about the platform, but about the Nigerian government’s fundamental structure of governance. The government is afraid of the platform because it has been discovered to support young people in speaking out and advocating for new ways to raise funds,” he explained.