Nigeria has suspended Twitter operations in the country indefinitely, two days after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.
The suspension was announced on Friday by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Adeyemi.
The President had condemned the attacks on police stations, prisons and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, especially in the South-East Nigeria, warning that those supporting insurrection and violence in the country would be shocked.
Buhari had tweeted, “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.”
The President’s tweet riled some persons who felt he was insensitive to have made an analogy of the civil war. His critics subsequently reported the tweet to Twitter and the microblogging site later deleted the post with a comment, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules”.
President Buhari subsequently accused Twitter of supporting insurrection in Nigeria since last October during the #EndSARS protests which ended in the destruction of lives and properties all over the country.
Reacting consequently on Friday in a statement, the minister said the Buhari government has suspended the activities of Twitter in the country.
The statement titled, ‘FG Suspends Twitter’s Operations in Nigeria’, read, “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 persistent 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 to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”
According to The PUNCH, a lawyer and member of the President’s All Progressives Congress ruling party, Dr Daniel Bwala, said Twitter deleted Buhari’s post out of malice but failed to delete the inciting posts of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
Bwala had also accused Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Jack Dorsey, of supporting a process that could have led to insurrection in Nigeria since last October during the #EndSARS protest.
When asked about the details of the suspension, a ministerial aide told Reuters: “Wait and see how things will turn out.”
Twitter is investigating its “deeply concerning” suspension of operations by the Nigerian government, and “will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.
Twitter’s website and app continued to work in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and commercial hub Lagos on Friday.