The Nigerian government on Friday suspended Twitter operations in the country indefinitely.
Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced the Twitter ban in a statement by his media aide Segun Adeyemi.
The statement announcing Twitter’s ban was announced on Twitter via Nigeria’s ministry of information and culture Twitter handle.
“The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria,” Mohammed said.
The Nigerian government’s spokesman cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
Mohammed 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.”
Buhari versus Twitter
The face-off between the Nigerian government and Twitter began in October 2020 after the co-founder of the platform Jack Dorsey supported the #EndSARS protests against police brutality.
Twitter is a major go-to platform for mobilising young Nigerians against government policies believed to be anti-people. And the Buhari government has not hidden its intention to regulate the use of social media in the country.
Buhari’s deleted tweet attracted widespread condemnations, with many Nigerians criticising the president especially for making reference to the civil war in which millions of Igbos were killed.
The president evoked Nigeria’s civil war experience which was fought between 1967 and 1970, and noted that most of those “misbehaving” in Nigeria’s southeast region are too young to understand the gravity of war.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” Buhari tweeted.
Some Nigerians called on Twitter to suspend Buhari’s account, claiming the president’s tweet “expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide”, as stated on Twitter’s usage policy.
However, Twitter on Wednesday deleted the offensive tweet.
The tweet violated Twitter rules which prohibit users from making statements that “threaten violence against an individual or a group of people; engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so, nor promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
Twitter’s role in Nigeria suspicious – Government
Reacting to the deletion of Buhari’s tweet, Mohammed accused Twitter of double standards in handling the issue.
Mohammed, who dismissed Twitter’s sanction, accused the social media giant of bias and supporting the looting and destruction of public and private properties during the #EndSARS protest in November 2020.
The Minister of Information said Twitter’s role is suspect, adding that Nigeria will not be fooled anymore.
“Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concern about a situation, he is free to express such views,” Mohammed said.