Nigeria is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with a population of just 1.4 billion people.
But for a blogger known only as Shanti, who works for a Nigerian magazine called News.com, her precarious existence has become a source of daily dread.
Since the end of a war with Boko Haram in 2014, the government has cracked down on bloggers, arresting them on spurious charges, and sentencing them to prison terms ranging from four months to life.
Shanti and many of her colleagues have fled Nigeria for the United States, where they have found refuge.
But the Nigerian government is not done with Shanti.
In a recent move, it has also launched a crackdown on social media, banning nearly every social media site in the country.
On June 24, the Ministry of Information and Communications ordered Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn to remove all posts, tweets and other social media content that contain the word “Nigeria,” which is a term used to describe the country’s military rulers.
Shanto and her colleagues were among more than 400 people arrested over the past three days, according to a statement from the Ministry.
“The government is taking this issue seriously,” the statement said.
“The authorities are trying to stop the spread of this hateful propaganda.
We are not here to promote the war on Boko Haram.
We have no agenda or plan to promote any political party or cause.”
The ministry added that the arrestees had also violated a court order and are being held in detention centers.
The government’s move against social media comes as it is facing increasing criticism for its repressive policies against civil society and activists, which have resulted in the arrest of tens of thousands of people since 2013.
The country has been at the forefront of the global push for democracy and human rights, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling it “one of the worst violators of human rights.”
According to the World Press Freedom Index, published annually by the Reporters Without Borders, Nigeria ranks 142nd out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of expression and press freedom.
It has been accused of systematically stifling civil society, including by blocking access to foreign media.
The Nigerian government has long blamed Boko Haram for the violence and killings, saying that the group’s violence was triggered by the government, not by a desire to topple the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The government has also blamed the group for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in northeast Nigeria.
The Nigeria government has repeatedly denied that Boko Haram is responsible for the abductions.
In February, Prime Minister Muhammadu Buhari, who has pledged to defeat Boko Haram, said that the government was simply following the “right laws and procedures” and that the abduction “has nothing to do with Boko [Boko Haram].”
The Nigerian media and human-rights groups have also criticized the government for its handling of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council said the government failed to prevent Boko Haram from beingheadings, abductions and other abuses, while saying the government should have prevented the killings of the girls.
In an open letter published in July, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Nigeria said the country was “facing a crisis of impunity that threatens the rule of law and undermines the capacity of law enforcement to prevent crimes.”
“The Government of Nigeria must not allow the emergence of new and credible threats to its rule of a country of approximately 5.8 million people,” the letter said.
“It must not permit the emergence, or the expansion of, a network of criminal organizations capable of perpetrating crimes and crimes against humanity, including against children.”