Nigeria says it suspends Twitter days after president’s post removed by Reuters

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari poses before the opening session of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies in Paris, France May 18, 2021. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
General Buhari (Rtd)

Nigeria said on Friday it had indefinitely suspended Twitter’s activities, two days after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

Information 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 did not spell out what form the suspension would take or give more details on the undermining activities. His ministry also announced Twitter’s suspension on Twitter.

When asked about the details of the suspension, a ministerial aide told Reuters: “Wait and see how things will turn out.”

Twitter is investigating its “deeply concerning” suspension of operations by the Nigerian government, and “will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.

Twitter’s website and app continued to work in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and commercial hub Lagos on Friday.

On Wednesday, the U.S. tech firm said Buhari’s post threatening to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings had violated Twitter’s “abusive behaviour” policy. read more 

In April, the information minister reacted angrily when Twitter chose neighbouring Ghana for its first African office. He said the company had been influenced by media misrepresentations of Nigeria, including reports of crackdowns on protests last year. read more 

Demonstrators calling for police reform had used social media to organise, raise money and share alleged proof of police harassment. Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, tweetedto encourage his followers to donate. 

In the protests’ wake, Mohammed called for “some form of regulation” on social media to combat “fake news”. 

A spokesperson for Airtel, one of Nigeria’s largest mobile carriers, on Friday declined to say whether the company had received any government directives about the suspension.

MTN, the largest mobile carrier, did not respond to calls and a message seeking comment.

Editorial

In the face of mammoth problems facing Nigeria, the Lilliputians in charge of Nigeria decided having a spat with Twitter is their immediate priority.

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