Nigeria tightens the noose on Twitter, others

Thursday June 10 2021
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Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, speaks during an interview on Nigeria's suspension of Twitter in Abuja, Nigeria, on June 9, 2021. PHOTO/AFP

By The East African

Nigeria has gone a step further in its logjam with microblogging platform Twitter, insisting there will be no dialogue until the American networking platform with 33 million subscribers is registered in Nigeria as a business entity.

The federal government also said that other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, must also be registered so that Nigeria could be able to generate revenue from their operations.

Mr Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture, also reported on June 9, 2021 that Twitter had formally approached the Federal Government for dialogue to resolve the problem that led to the suspension of its activities in Nigeria.

At the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the presidential villa, the minister said he got the message from Twitter on June 9 seeking dialogue with the government over the suspension order.

Unpatriotic elements

He maintained that the social media giant was suspended on June 5, 2021 because it provided an avenue for unpatriotic elements that were bent on destroying the corporate existence of Nigeria.

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According to him, the owner of Twitter helped to fund the recent protests against Nigerian police under #EndSarsCampaign.

The protests in October 2020 witnessed spurious violence that led to the killing of more than 78 police personnel across Nigeria and destruction of critical infrastructure and property.

Twitter, Mohammed said, allowed the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), Mr Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently hiding in UK, to use the platform to call for the killing of security agents and destruction of public facilities.

He said Twitter failed to take down Kanu’s tweets in spite of repeated requests to do so.

"Our decision to suspend Twitter has been lauded by some; it has been decried by some.

Sovereignty of Nigeria

"But let me make it clear that what’s important to us is the sovereignty of Nigeria and until when Twitter is paused.

"And the cardinal thing is that Twitter must be registered in Nigeria, Twitter must be licenced in Nigeria and Twitter must stop using its platform for activities that are inimical to the growth of Nigeria or to its corporate existence.”

According to the government spokesman, freedom of speech has not been stifled by the suspension of Twitter. He maintained that Nigerians can still use other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

He also denied that the suspension is not effective, arguing that that “Twitter is losing money as a result of the action”.

Buhari’s tweet

The tiff with Twitter hit the roof when the platform deleted a tweet in which President Muhammadu Buhari warned those trying to pull Nigeria down.

In the tweet, President Buhari warned that “a rude shock” awaits unpatriotic elements promoting insurrection and burning critical assets across the country.

The tweet read, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

*Written by Mohammed Momoh  

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