Buhari suspends Twitter operation in Nigeria

NIGERIA’S President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the operations of a US-Based social media platform, Twitter in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture Segun Adeyemi in Abuja on Friday.

Adeyemi said the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed announced the suspension in a statement saying the Twitter platform was persistently used for activities that could undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria.

“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” the statement read.

Mohammed said the federal government had also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all Over-the-top (OTT) and social media operations in Nigeria.

A few days ago, Twitter had removed a post by Buhari’s that threatened civil war treatment on some group of people in Nigeria.

The ICIR reported that the tweet was removed due to its violation of the Twitter rules about posts containing violence and other inciting contents.

According to Twitter’s rule, a user can violate its rule if he violates the safety rules of the platform, under the safety rules, the platform listed violence, terrorism/violent extremism, child sexual exploitation, abuse/harassment, hateful conduct, suicide or self-harm, sensitive media, including graphic violence and adult content, among others.

The ICIR called Mohammed on phone but he did not answer his call. He also did not respond to the text message sent to him concerning the suspension.

However, the minister on Wednesday said the actions of Twitter in Nigeria was ‘suspicious,’ accusing the platform of playing double standards by ignoring the posts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu and deleting that of the president.

Mohammed also argued that Buhari had the liberty to express his views concerning the state of security in the South-East part of the country.

Earlier in April, Twitter had established its African Headquarters in the Republic of Ghana ignoring Nigeria that is the most populous African nation.

    The founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey said the African Hq was established in Ghana because the country was a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the open internet, which the platform was also an advocate.

    Recall that the Nigerian government deliberated on a bill to censor open speech, most especially on social media in the country titled ‘Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill’. Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi representing Niger North Senatorial District of Niger State sponsored the bill. There was also the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and Other Related Offences Bill targeting Nigerians on social media.

    And industry person told The ICIR that the government is likely to direc teleomm companies and data service providers  through NCC to suspend all IP addresses associated to Twitter.

    Meanwhile, experts have explained that Twitter users can bypass Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Nigeria through Virtual Private Network (VPN) and continue to share information without interference from the Nigerian government. With VPN location spoofing, Twitter users can switch to a server in another country and effectively change their location.


    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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