A group of social enterprises yesterday announced that the continued suspension of the microblogging site, Twitter, in Nigeria has cost the country about $360 million in economic revenue in 100 days of its suspension.
The coalition, which made the announcement, includes groups like Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) among others.
It also claimed that the government, while claiming to promote innovation and at the same time clamping down on tech companies was contradictory to its economic drive promoting national development.
Speaking to journalists in Lagos to mark the 100 days since the government announced the suspension of Twitter, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, noted that as far as they are concerned, the ban remains illegal as rule of law must prevail in a democratic dispensation.
Citing NetBlocks cost of shutdown tool, Sesan said the blockade costs Nigeria’s economy $250,600 every hour in the last 2,400 hours the federal government banned the platform in the country.
He said: “Suspending twitter in Nigeria is illegal, and we are saying it categorically, as we expect the court to support what we have said because the order to suspend the telecommunications companies was not done with a court warrant.
“Maybe they can now come up with a backdated court warrant, well at that time, the court was on strike, so there was no way they would have obtained it.”
The group, which is advocating for digital rights and freedom of speech, however, alleged that the government has been making up reasons for the continued suspension.
Sesan added: “Please do not forget that at the beginning they said the reason for the ban was to free the space from the activities of terrorists, and then they claimed it is now safe. My question is if it is now safe why is the suspension still on?”
The coalition, having also alleged that the measure taken by the federal government in declaring the platform suspended undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence, disclosed that it has taken some measures to call on the government to rescind the suspension of Twitter.
On his part, the Programme Director, Media Right Agenda (MDA), Ayode Longe, said Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria has filed a N5 billion claim at the federal High court in Lagos against four mobile telecommunications operators in Nigeria over the blocking of access to Twitter, in a class action on behalf of the companies’ subscribers, including PIN and MRA.
“This action is founded on the belief that the telecommunications operators have no legal authority to block our access to Twitter. MRA filed a separate suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) challenging its powers to licence social media platforms, 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,” Longe said.
They also maintained that since June 4, 2021, Nigeria has not been the same as the effect of the Twitter ban touches all aspects of social and economic growth.
“Nigeria has lost at least $360 million in the past 100 days since the Twitter ban,” they revealed.
Similarly, the Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EIE), Yemi Adamolekun, said NCDC was one of the government agencies that made excellent use of the platform to disseminate information during the COVID-19 lockdown for quick updates to the public.
“In shutting down Twitter, you have shut down that effective channel of communication, and we can see the difference because post-Delta variant, as Nigerians have not been engaged as they were at the peak of the pandemic.
“This is also not about the platform itself, but about some fundamental structure of governance in Nigeria. The government is afraid of the platform because it is found to supporting young people to give their voice and advocating additional channels to raise money,” he stated.