[Breaking] Deleted Tweet: Buhari Hits Back, Orders Indefinite Suspension Of Twitter Operations In Nigeria
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.
The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
— Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021
The statement, signed by Ministry spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi, cited the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
According to the statement, the Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all Over-The-Top (OTT) media services and social media operations in Nigeria.
It is not yet clear how the suspension will work but the Twitter website was still accessible from Lagos as of Friday afternoon.
The suspension comes days after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official account.
The tweet had referenced the Nigerian civil war as the President threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.
Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigeria Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.
Buhari stated that his government will get “harder” on those hell-bent on destroying the country.
It sparked reactions from many Nigerians who interpreted the statement as a threat to commit human rights violations.
Buhari made the threat after receiving security reports from Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the series of recent attacks on INEC facilities nationwide, especially in the South East.
The President’s Twitter account was reported by Nigerians who understood the last part of the thread as threats against Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its military wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Many reminded Buhari of the consequences of Nigerian Civil War which lasted from 1967 to 1970, stating that such must not be repeated.
Over 3 million Nigerians, mostly Igbo people, died during the war. Millions of people, especially children also starved to death.
Social media users likened President’s statement to that of the former United States President Donald Trump which earned him a permanent suspension.
Trump’s Twitter account was “permanently suspended… due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter had said.
Read Also: Twitter Permanently Suspends Trump’s Account
It added that the decision was made “after close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account“.
Trump was locked out of his account for 12 hours after he called the people who stormed the US Capitol “patriots“.
Hundreds of his supporters entered the complex as US Congress attempted to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The ensuing violence led to the deaths of four civilians and a police officer.
Twitter warned then that it would ban Trump “permanently” if he breached the platform’s rules again. Trump posted two tweets further that the company cited as the final straws.
Recently, a top official at Twitter said Trump’s Twitter ban will remain forever, even if he runs for president again in 2024.
In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal on February 10 gave the decisive word on how the company would handle Trump’s Twitter account long term.
Responding to a question about what would happen if Trump ran again and was elected to office, Segal reacted without mincing words.
The way our policies work, when you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform — whether you’re a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official.
However, it remains to be seen how Twitter would respond to the latest development in Nigeria.