THE Nigerian government has said it will lift the current ban on Twitter if only the platform can be used responsibly.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama gave the condition in a meeting with envoys of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union in Nigeria on Monday.
Onyeama noted that the micro-blogging platform was not taken down because it was threatening the country, but the ban was meant to stop Twitter from being used for criminal activities.
“The condition would be responsible use of the social media and that really has to be it,” he said, when asked when the ban would be lifted.
“We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing. Why we have taken this measure is to stop them to be used as platforms for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities.”
The minister stressed that while the government would accommodate criticisms and diverse opinions, it would not sit back and watch social media become a tool to destabilise the country.
“Differences of opinion is not a problem; everybody will not think alike. But lives matter; Nigerian lives matter and we have to do everything we can to preserve Nigerian lives. And when we feel our goals are threatened, actions need to be taken.”
The envoys had, in a joint statement on Saturday, condemned the ban on Twitter by the Nigerian government. They also decried the move by President Buhari’s administration to gag free speech which, according to them, was not associated with democratic governance.
While pledging to continually support Nigeria in achieving unity, peace and prosperity, the envoys noted that the ban was coming at a critical time when Nigeria needed to accommodate more communication to address a host of challenges facing it as a nation.
Minister of Culture and Information Lai Mohammed had announced the ban in a statement on Friday shortly after the platform deleted a controversial and violent tweet by President Buhari.
On Saturday, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) announced, in a statement on Saturday, that it had complied with the government directives. However, millions of Nigerians have continued to use the platform through Virtual Private Networks (VPN).