The Federal Government on Sunday accused the Canadian government and American social media giant, Twitter, of double standards in its handling of the truckers’ protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.
This was followed by the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Canada, truck drivers converged on the nation’s capital, a situation that made Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit out at the protesters, describing their action as “unacceptable”.
Similarly, Twitter suspended the account of the Canadian truckers protesting over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions around the pandemic.
But while reacting to the development at a media briefing in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, criticised Twitter and the West for the way they perceive the violent protesters in their region and those in Nigeria. He recalled how the Canadian government condemned the actions taken by the Nigerian government to quell the #EndSARS protest against police brutality and bad governance that took place in October 2020.
“Recall, gentlemen, that during the EndSARS protest, which culminated in the blockage of public roads and massive destruction of government and private property, Canada was one of the countries that spoke out in support of the protesters,” he said in a communique in Abuja on Sunday.
“Recall also that Twitter actively supported the EndSars protesters and even helped them to raise funds while GoFundMe was used to raise funds for the protests.”
To Mohammed, these are the same entities “that are now rushing to distance themselves from the protesters in Canada and even denying them the use of their platforms”.
He, however, stated that the essence of the news briefing was not to gloat over the unfortunate development in Canada.
“This is similar to what played out during the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol In Washington, D.C. where those involved are either still being investigated or have been charged to court. I don’t blame them. Nobody wants their country destroyed under the guise of protests,” he said.
“Don’t misunderstand this intervention. We are not gloating over the unfortunate development in Canada. But we are only calling attention to the double standards involved in the way protesters deemed to be violent are perceived in Nigeria and in the West.
“Those who referred to the hoodlums who destroyed public and private property in Nigeria under the guise of EndSARS as peaceful protesters have tagged similar protesters in their own countries as insurrectionists and terrorists. This glaring double standard should not be lost on all Nigerians.
“We have always said that you must have a country before you can even enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by your country’s constitution. If there is no Nigeria, no one will be talking of freedom of expression or freedom of association and the like.
“This realisation explains why every country goes the extra mile to protect and preserve itself. And this also explains why we have continued to insist on the regulation of social media to ensure responsible content. In this area, I can confidently say we are far ahead of most countries in the world, who have now realized that social media must be regulated in the interest of their own people.
“In this regard, our successful negotiation with Twitter to fashion out measures to ensure responsible use of that platform which, by the way, will also apply to other social media platforms, has made us a global trailblazer in efforts to prevent harmful content from social media platforms.
“Gentlemen, we must not allow anyone to destroy our country under the guise of protest or unbridled freedoms. We all must put Nigeria first at all times.”
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