The Federal government has announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria. The statement, made by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and signed off by his media aide Segun Adeyemi could see telecoms in the country prevent Nigerians from using Twitter. Here’s the statement issued by the ministry:
The Federal Government has suspended indefinitely the operations of the microblogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the presistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
This suspension is coming days after Twitter deleted tweets and videos of President Muhammadu Buhari making threats of punishment to a sect called IPOB in the South-Eastern part of the country after he blamed them for attacks on government buildings. He then referenced Nigeria’s civil war events in the 1960s which seemed to offend many Nigerians.
Buhari, who was the country’s Head of State in the 1980s and served in the army against secessionists, said young Nigerians in the country’s southeastern part were too young to remember the horrible events that occurred during the war. According to him, the activities of the present-day secessionists are likely headed towards war; hence, it was prerogative to stop them beforehand with force.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” he said.
Twitter chose to delete the tweet after violating its abusive behaviour policy and several calls by Nigerians to take it down. Twitter also suspended the president’s account, leaving it in a ‘read-only mode’ for 12 hours.
Following its decision, Mr Mohammed called out the social media giant by saying its decision was biased and said the president had a right to express his thoughts on events that affect the country. He also raised suspicion about the platform’s intention in the country. “Twitter may have its own rules; it’s not the universal rule. If Mr President anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views… The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very, very suspect,” he said.
In a retaliation act, Nigeria has proceeded to suspend the platform’s operations in the country. While Twitter doesn’t have any offices in the country, this announcement can still play out, and although there hasn’t been any social media ban yet, Nigeria’s current administration is no stranger to making ploys to restrict access to the internet, certain websites or social media.