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#KeepItOn in Nigeria: social media, internet must stay connected during elections

Authorities in Nigeria must not shut down social media or in any way interfere with internet access throughout the upcoming elections.

Through an open letter, Access Now, Paradigm Initiative, and the #KeepItOn coalition are calling on authorities to ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels remain free, open, secure, inclusive, and accessible prior to, during, and after the general election scheduled for February 25, 2023 and the gubernatorial elections on March 11, 2023.

People should be encouraged to connect, ask questions, and pursue information throughout election periods — and they need access to the internet and social media to do that. The government of Nigeria has the responsibility to help people empower themselves. Keep people connected so they can actively participate in the elections. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

This call for connectivity comes after authorities blocked Twitter in June 2021, leading to the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Court) declaring the shutdown as “unlawful and inconsistent with the country’s international obligations.”

The #KeepItOn coalition reminds the government of Nigeria that disconnecting people from online communication platforms is a violation of human rights — the Twitter ban case outcome has settled this position for Nigeria clearly. Keep people online and support the electoral process. Thobekile Matimbe, Partnerships and Engagements Manager at Paradigm Initiative

The #KeepItOn coalition is calling on the government of Nigeria and telecommunication providers working in the country to:

  • Publicly assure people in Nigeria that the internet will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure across the country  before, during, and after the election;
  • Refrain from ordering the interruption of telecommunications services, social media platforms, and other digital communication platforms;
  • Ensure that telecommunications and internet service providers implement all necessary measures to provide high-quality, secure, unrestricted, and uninterrupted internet access; 
  • Ensure that telecommunication and internet service providers inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service; and,
  • Uphold national and international laws and obligations including Nigeria’s Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court  judgement.

Read the open letter.