On January 26, four mobile internet service providers operating in Nigeria – India-based Airtel, South Africa-based MTN, Nigeria-based 9mobile, and Glo, which is owned by local company Globacom – blocked the privately owned Peoples Gazette in Nigeria, according to the outlet’s managing editor, Samuel Ogundipe, who spoke to CPJ via phone.
As of February 5, access continued to be restricted on all four of the providers, but the site was accessible via WiFi, fiber optic connections, and when using a VPN, a virtual private network that can disguise the user’s location to bypass censorship, Ogundipe told CPJ. Qurium, a Swedish non-profit that supports news websites facing censorship around the world, said it set up alternative access to Peoples Gazette’s content via a mirror site and a second domain, gazettengr.com.
In a separate incident, on February 1, lawyers representing David Umahi, the governor of Nigeria’s Ebonyi state, sent a letter to the Peoples Gazette threatening legal action over articles published by the site on January 29 and January 30, according to a Peoples Gazette report and a copy of the letter reviewed by CPJ. The letter called the Peoples Gazette’s reporting “defamatory,” demanded the paper retract the reports and apologize, and pay two billion naira (US$5,075,022) – half to Umahi as damages and half to charity.