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Nigeria: ENDSARS campaign tests relations in telecommunications

Nigeria , 09 Dec 2020

Following the ENDSARS protests in Nigeria, there is renewed focus on relationships between social network Twitter, telecommunication service providers and the industry regulator.

In mid-October, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey expressed support for the protests and called for bitcoin donations for the group coordinating the campaign.

Twitter also created a dedicated emoji for the protest.

Dorsey was subsequently summoned to a Nigerian Federal High Court hearing in Abuja following legal action by former presidential aspirant Adamu Garba who accused Dorsey of financing the protests.

In his petition, Garba asked Dorsey to pay US$1-billion to the Nigerian government.

However, Garba and his legal team were not present when the case was called and the matter was postponed to 2021.

Meanwhile the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been criticised for orchestrating networking downtime experienced during the protests.

Operators have however argued that they remain completely neutral.

Speaking through the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), the operators said while they went about their activities without taking sides, their officials were not allowed access to telecommunications facilities to carry out regular maintenance and to refuel generators powering the base transceiver stations.

Suspended Twitter account

The NCC also recently confirmed that its social media account was suspended by Twitter.

According to the regulator its account - which has since been restored - was suspended as a security measure that was triggered due to the detection of multiple online staff internet protocol logins that was interpreted as a suspected attempt to hack the account.

“This was responsible for the decision to immediately suspend the account to protect the account and its followers from any security breaches or compromises,” NCC said in a statement.

Confirming the development, Twitter said its action was based on suspicion of compromise on the official account.

“If we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised, we may suspend it until it can be secured and restored to the account owner in order to reduce potentially-malicious activities caused by the compromise,” Twitter stated.

The suspension of the regulator’s account came at a time when the government was at loggerheads with several foreign companies, including Twitter and CNN, over their respective support and coverage of the #ENDSARS protests.

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