A digital rights group believes the websites have been deliberately targeted by the government for playing an active part in the #EndSARS protests
At least three prominent websites that were involved in the recent #EndSARS protests have been inaccessible to Nigerians without a Virtual Private Network (VPN) since Thursday.
The Paradigm Initiative, an organisation that advocates for “digital rights”, has said through a Twitter post that they are “investigating” the situation, implying that they believe the blocking of these websites has been deliberate.
“When similar network disruptions happened in October 2017, we obtained a copy of the letter showing that (the Nigerian Communications Commission) asked a private company to help block 21 websites in Nigeria,’’ it said, adding “we are back here 3 years later.”
Members of the Feminist Coalition have equally expressed their suspicions on Twitter, with one of its members – @fkabudu – saying the “playbook is the same as it has always been. Attack, discredit, lie censor.”
Formed in the middle of 2020, the Feminist Coalition quickly became popular for their active role in gathering donations that were used to provide security, legal aid and medical assistance to protesters, as well as food and drinks.
The group raised tens of millions of naira and was widely praised for its transparency, as it used its website to detail all donations and spending.
Radio Isiaq emerged as another novelty of the protests. It was an online radio set up to bypass censorship in the traditional media and keep protesters informed.
The #EndSARS website was equally used to support the cause of protesters, by prompting users to upload “recent illegal sightings” of officers of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and spreading awareness on the movement.
As of the time of publishing this report, the three websites were still inaccessible without a VPN.
A VPN allows internet users anonymity by creating a private network from the public connection they are connected to. It is a common tool used by activists in countries where repressive regimes censor the internet.
Since the end of the protests, the Nigerian government has gone after individuals and organisations that were linked to the protest movement.