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Nigeria takes on Twitter as war-talk gets Buhari suspended

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Nigeria , 07 Jun 2021

The Nigerian government has indefinitely suspended Twitter’s activities in the country days after the social network removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari which threatened to punish regional secessionists.

In the post (1 June 2021), Buhari referred to the 1967 to 1970 Nigerian civil war and to treating those misbehaving today “in the language they understand”.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

Twitter said the post violated its rules and removed it.

In a Tweet before the ban was affected, the country’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said “the government had acted because of the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Mohammed accused Twitter of double standards accusing it of ignoring violent messages from a separatist leader.

Mohammed also revealed that the national broadcasting regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has been instructed by the government to start the process of licencing OTT (internet streaming services) and social media operations in Nigeria.

Authorities have not provided any details on how the ban would work or any explanation on how Twitter had undermined the country’s corporate existence.

The Association of Licenced Telecom Operators in Nigeria and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCOM) confirmed its members had received formal communication from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC to suspend access to Twitter and that members (telecommunications operators) had acted in compliance.

ATCOM president Ikechukwu Mnamani said, “While the association and its members understand the position taken by the Federal government, the reasons for the directive, and have complied with the directive, it is pertinent that the issue is resolved soon in the interest of all.”

A Twitter spokesman told the BBC that it was investigating and will provide updates when “we know more about the Nigerian ban.”

Twitter has millions of users in Nigeria and has played a role in public discourse with hashtags #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped over 270 school girls and #EndSARS, during anti police brutality protests in 2020.

In April this year, the Nigerian government was outraged by Twitter’s announcement that its new African headquarters would be based in neighbouring Ghana.

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