Twitter concerned, investigates suspension of its operations in Nigeria

In a tit for tat battle, Nigeria said it suspended Twitter indefinitely on Friday, two days after the company removed a Tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the site’s rules. A statement by the federal government on the suspension cited, “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Punch Newspapers in Nigeria reported that Twitter was still accessible in the country despite the suspension. This was announced on Friday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Adeyemi.  The minister’s statement was also silent on the time that the ban would be enforced.

The statement, which was posted on the ministry’s official Twitter handle on Friday evening, accused the American social media company of allowing its platform to be used for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

The suspension comes two days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that was widely perceived as offensive. In that tweet on Tuesday, the Nigerian leader threatened to deal with people in the country’s southeast, who he blames for the recurring attacks on public infrastructure in the region.

The President had condemned the attacks on police stations, prisons and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, especially in the South-East, 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 Nigerians who flagged it to Twitter as they 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”.

The brutal two-year Nigeria-Biafra war, killed an estimated one to three million people, mostly from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of the country between 1967 and 1970.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed criticized Twitter’s action and accused the social media giant of double standards. He 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.”

The Nigerian Senate is currently deliberating on Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019 commonly known as the anti-social media bill. It seeks to criminalise the use of the social media in peddling false or malicious information. It was sponsored by Senator Mohammed Musa, a member of the President’s All Progressives Congress.

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