Twitter is banned in Nigeria for deleting its president’s tweet

According to the latest news, Twitter is suspended “indefinitely” in Nigeria “for the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

From its official Twitter handle, @FMICNigeria, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture posted “The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.” This move comes days after the platform removed a threatening tweet by president Muhammadu Buhari which Twitter said violated its “abusive behavior” policy.

Yesterday, CNN reported that the office of Nigeria’s attorney general and ministry of justice said it would arrest and prosecute anyone trying to get around the block. It also ordered government agencies to cooperate with prosecutors “to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.” After this step, there were reports that people within Nigeria were using VPNs to avoid the ban.

It should be noted that in the so called deleted tweet, Buhari suggested he would punish secessionists. Buhari, a major general of the Biafra war which left more than a million people dead posted “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

Yesterday, in a statement, Twitter’s Public Policy team said that it would work to restore access in Nigeria. Reuters reported that Twitter’s website was not accessible from Nigeria from most mobile carriers. The citizens have not welcomes the ban with open arms.

They have criticized the Nigerian government’s stance. Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International in Nigeria tweeted, “Suspending Twitter in Nigeria is just one more way of stating that people’s rights do not matter just what the State wants. This is a dangerous precedent and must be called out for what it is.”

Michael Turner
Michael Turner is an environmental activist with broad, deep experience in print and online writing, publication and site management, news coverage, and editorial team management.