The authorities declared on Friday the 4th of June 2021 that Twitter’s operations in the nation would be suspended.
After being forced to do so, mobile phone companies barred access, although some users were able to circumvent the restriction. President Muhammadu Buhari’s message was removed from Twitter after it was found to be in violation of the site’s guidelines.
Some users interpreted his tweet, which alluded to Nigeria’s four-decade civil war, as a veiled threat to a secessionist movement in the country’s south-east.
On Saturday, his government stated that the removal of the tweet was “disappointing,” but that it was not the only reason for the “temporary” suspension.
“In Nigeria, there has been a litany of issues with the social media platform, where misinformation and fake news propagated through it has resulted in real-world violence,” the ministry claimed.
The announcement of a ban by Information Minister Lai Mohammed on Friday was “extremely alarming,” according to Twitter.
Human rights organizations and international powers have slammed the measure, claiming it will restrict free speech in Nigeria.
Justice Minister Abubakar Malami claimed in a statement that he had “ordered for urgent prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter activities in Nigeria,” and that the public prosecutor had been instructed to “swing into action.”
According to the minister r’s spokeswoman, Umar Gwandu, the message was intended for both corporations and individuals.
Nigeria’s government claims Twitter is being used to harm “Nigeria’s business life.” A representative for the site said it was permitting “the transmission of religious, racist, xenophobic, and fraudulent propaganda” that “may break some countries apart.”
According to a government announcement, the national broadcasting regulator, NBC, has been instructed to begin “licensing all internet streaming services and social media operations in Nigeria.”
Earlier this week, the professional association of Nigerian mobile phone operators, known as Alton, stated that they had been instructed to prevent Nigerians from accessing Twitter. Due to “national interest requirements” in Nigerian telecommunication law and licensing rules, the association stated its members had complied with the government order.
Alton, on the other hand, stated that it agreed with the UN that the right to interact offline and online should be maintained.
Many Nigerians believe that the Nigeria government has wanted to regulate the social media bill after the #ENDSARS protest that took place last year October.
Since taking office in 2015, the Nigerian government has been toying with the idea of regulating social media in the country, and this administration has been obsessed with the idea. The president’s tweet being deleted, on the other hand, was seen as the last straw.
But it was Twitter’s role in last year’s #EndSars anti-police brutality protests in Nigeria that sealed its fate.
The demonstrations were mostly organized through the platform, and Jack Dorsey, the company’s CEO, encouraged donations to one of the leading groups of organizers. For the protests, a unique emoji was created.
Many Nigerian youths now have a voice thanks to Twitter. However, the authorities saw the company’s role in energizing the country’s youth as having exceeded a limit.
The administration, on the other hand, appears to have underestimated the #EndSars demonstrators’ resourcefulness. When the restriction occurs, people are already downloading VPNs to get around it.
However, the ban of twitter which was later called ‘Suspension’ was announced after hours after a tweet by the Nigeria President was removed. The said tweet violated the twitter regulations.
“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 lived through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” read the tweet, which was posted on Tuesday 01/06/2021.
According to a Twitter spokeswoman, the message “was in violation of Twitter’s terms of service. The account owner will be obliged to delete the offending Tweet and place their account in read-only status for 12 hours “. There was no more information in the announcement.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet before the ban of twitter
On Wednesday afternoon, President Buhari’s Twitter account still stated that one tweet was “no longer available.”
The account, on the other hand, had retweeted a video from the president, along with the following quote: “Whoever wants to bring down the system will be in for a rude awakening shortly. We’ve given them enough time… we’ll speak to them in their own language.”
In his tweet, President Buhari made no reference to any particular group. In recent weeks, authorities in Nigeria’s south-east have accused proscribed separatists of carrying out attacks, including arson, on election centers and police stations.
Many people were outraged on social media with the president’s tone, which they considered was considerably harsher than his denunciation of acts of banditry or attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the north.
The Nigerian Civil War, often known as the Biafran War, was fought over the state of Biafra’s attempted secession. The secessionist forces were defeated after a 30-month struggle that claimed the lives of over a million people, the majority of them were civilians who died of famine.
“Twitter may have its own standards; it is not the universal rule,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said, adding that if the president is “concerned about a problem, he is free to share such opinions.”
He claimed that other groups’ inciting tweets had not been banned by Twitter. Twitter offers a broad and extensive list of content that should not be used in tweets, including abusive behavior, harassment, discrimination, and violent threats, with different levels of punishment for breaking the rules, including post removal and account suspension or deletion.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos State Governor) Stand on Twitter Ban
Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State, has encouraged the Federal Government (FG) to reconsider the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria by engaging in dialogue with the goal of resolving the issues. Sanwo-Olu made the passionate appeal to the FG on Monday, June 7th, while appearing on an early morning television show in Lagos with panelists lead by Dr. Rueben Abati, remarking about the second anniversary of his administration as well as successes and the State of the Nation.
“Though, I will not wish to join discussions surrounding the Twitter ban,” Sanwo-Olu said. Last week, I went on a fact-finding mission to some of our technology hubs, where we promised to support our players. We have N20 million, N10 million, and N5 million research grants to support the sector, and we spent over N250 million last year. In terms of interventions, we back them up. We are constructing Nigeria’s largest information and communication technology (ICT) hub in Lagos.
“On the Twitter ban, I can’t sit here with all of my obligations and criticize the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, who has all of the security prognosis I don’t. I can’t even begin to say if what he’s done is good or bad.
“However, there are difficulties on both sides that Twitter and our government can resolve. As they stated, the move is a suspension rather than a ban. In light of this, let us all take a seat and have a discussion.
“If Twitter had to invest in a country with 5 million subscribers rather than Nigeria, which has 40 million, this demonstrates why we need to have that dialogue as well. Before operations in other countries, they sign an underpinning agreement on the rules of engagement; I’m not sure if we have that here.
“Having said that, FG has a lot more experience with this. We can’t ignore the fact that there is a lot of e-commerce and a lot of young people doing digital things on the internet. I feel both sides might benefit from more limits and better management.
“And what I’m pleading for is that we see that happen within the next two days, that we come together and resolve it amicably, because Lagos is hurting, our youths are hurting, Nigeria is hurting, and let us understand what the issues are in getting this behind us so that we don’t politicize it, because people are losing money, businesses are being destroyed, and economies are being destroyed.
“There are also security concerns; let us be cautious and not throw the baby out with the bath water. And I’m willing to speak with it if I’m asked to provide sound advice on what I believe should be done.”
Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo State Governor) Stand on Twitter Ban
Seyi Makinde, the governor of Oyo State, has requested the Federal Government to lift the ban on Twitter in Nigeria, saying that the popular microblogging and social media site has become a source of income for many people, regardless of their political or religious beliefs. He also drew the attention of the FG to the impact of measures on investor confidence.
Makinde made the announcement in a statement on June 5th, only hours after the Twitter ban went into force.
In his statement, Gov Seyi Makinde said “As leaders, we should go beyond emotional reactions to issues and think about how our actions will affect the people we lead and our international ratings, socially and economically.
Twitter has become the platform for young people and indeed all Nigerians to exercise their fundamental right to express and publish an opinion. They use the platform to complain, argue and give feedback to government and its agencies who in turn, use these to improve policies. This is a fundamental point that should be kept in mind as we debate the necessity of this suspension.”
Seyi Makinde went on to say that Twitter had become more than just a means of communication for many diligent Nigerian teenagers; it had also become a source of income for many.
“Nigerian youths and digital communications organisations earn a living from being able to use the platform to post communications on behalf of their clients,” he said.
Written By Olutayo Olusanya