Global Rights, CSOs lament Twitter ban, demand conducive environment for businesses to thrive

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An international organisation, Global Rights, has lamented the ban on microblogging site, Twitter, saying that the losses necessitated by the ban are unquantifiable and not restricted to finance alone as lack of information has also led to loss of lives and property.

Addressing participants Wednesday in Abuja during a workshop on business, human rights and the shrinking civic space, the Executive Director of Global Rights (Nigeria), Abiodun Baiyewu, said that many policies have been closing down in Nigeria or relocating as a result of insecurity and bad government policies.

She said: “The core take-away from this workshop is that businesses and human rights defenders share the same space. The space could be physical or digital. The current security challenges in Nigeria is affecting all of us and we must work together to deal with these challenges. Businesses are stronger and thrive in stronger democracies. So, we are making a case for investments and businesses to ensure that the civic space is healthy.

“Civil society organisations have already mentioned the financial losses necessitated by Twitter ban, but the losses are bigger. You know that most people get their information on COVID-19 from Twitter, for example. However, since the ban, the number of infections is no longer stated on Twitter. That resulted in an upsurge in number of cases recorded in Nigeria. So, we have lost people because of the Twitter ban. So, it is not just about public health, but also about public safety.

“When places are being attacked, people would raise their voices on Twitter and call the attention of security forces, but that is no longer happening and businesses are getting away with shabbily treating customers, because Twitter is no longer happening. So, why we cannot quantify the losses, in terms of money, like government did, these losses are real, deep and affect not just our democracy, but our welfare as Nigerians, which government is mandated to protect.

“Also, the shutdown of communication system in some northern states is infringing on their human rights as enshrined in the constitution. Government is relying on overriding public interest, but is it really an overriding public interest to shut down communications completely? I think that decision should have been made by the courts and not just by the government itself; arbitrarily. It is illegal. If you are going to contravene a human rights provision, you need to ask for an exception either from the legislature or judiciary, but the government didn’t do that before shutting down communication systems in some northern states, which is illegal and unfortunate for a supposed democratic nation.”

Blueprint reports that the workshop had in attendance representatives from national and international CSOs, including the coordinator of Public Policy Initiatives, Amara Nwankpa, Programme Manager for the Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders programme, Ana Zbona, Chairman National Business and Human Rights Roundtable (NBH2R), Mr Soji Apampa, Project Coordinator, Voice in Nigeria, Ijeoma Okwor, Paradigm Initiative, Gabreal Odunsi, CSR-in-Action, Bekeme Masade, SBM Intelligence, Cheta Nwanze, among others.

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