The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has shut down the platform of an online news platform, Peoples Gazette, denying its readers access to the website.
The platform said in a release that a vast majority of its web readers were denied access to its contents owing to a disruption influenced by the government.
The platform, launched in 2020, has been critical of the government’s actions and policies, including its coverage of the #EndSARS protest staged in October and the aftermath of the protest.
In a statement issued by its Managing Editor, Samuel Ogundipe, the media organisation alleged that the disruption, which started on Tuesday evening, was based on a directive from the Nigerian government to MTN, Glo Mobile and other telecom firms.
Ogundipe suspected the restriction may have been caused by a couple of reports the newspaper published recently.
MTN and Glo have the two biggest mobile data subscriber bases with 78,754,855 and 52,573,907 connected lines respectively as at the end of the second quarter of 2020, figures released by the Nigerian Communication Commission showed.
Airtel has 52,462,347 subscribers and 9mobile, in the fourth position, has 12,111,674 subscribers.
“We have strong grounds to believe that it [the restriction] was deliberate based on the preliminary conclusion of webmasters,” Ogundipe said.
The clampdown on Peoples Gazette’s operations may not be unconnected to certain critical reports done by the platform recently exposing the corruption and power play in Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power.
“Nigerian telecom firms have a history of acquiescing to repressive orders from state actors without recourse to the Nigerian Constitution, which is why we would not yield any resources to fight back against this through available civil authorities,” Ogundipe said.
Expectedly, Ogundipe said the restriction will stifle the newspaper of its readership and will “leave our newspaper hemorrhaging crucial revenues from web traffic” if it lingers.