Several major Nigerian newspapers have carried a front-page advertorial that accuses the authorities of planning to clamp down on freedom of information. The banners bear a picture of an individual with a sealed mouth with the caption: “Information Blackout – It’s not just against the media… .it’s about society’s right to know, your right to be heard.” The message is a joint release from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
The federal government is moving to tighten regulation on social media after suspending Twitter over national security concerns. A proposed controversial bill seeks to give more powers to the Minister of Information to control the conduct of print media houses and media practitioners. Many journalists and groups have condemned the proposed amendments, describing them as an attempt by the government to stifle the freedom of speech and a way of muzzling the media into silence.
In June 2021, the government suspended the use of Twitter in the country, claiming that the social media platform was being used to cause division and undermine the “corporate existence”. The move came after a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari was deleted by Twitter. The government’s move prompted an immediate backlash among social media users and human rights activists, with #NigeriaTwitterBan and #KeepitOn trending as Nigerians used virtual private networks to access the site. The Nigerian authorities are also intending to force social media platforms to register in Nigeria and comply with local regulations before they are licensed to operate.