Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Nigeria launches Twitter days after the president’s post was removed

ABUJA – Nigeria said on Friday that Twitter’s activities had been suspended indefinitely, two days after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening to punish regional visionaries.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the government had taken action due to ‘the continued use of the platform for activities that could undermine Nigeria’s corporate existence’.

Mohammed did not say what form the suspension would take, or gave more details about the subversive activities. His ministry too Twitter suspension announced on Twitter.

Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information in Nigeria, Lai Mohammed, speaks at a news conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 19, 2020. (Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters)

Asked about the details of the suspension, a minister’s assistant told Reuters: “Wait and see how things turn out.”

Already from the early hours of Saturday morning, Twitter’s website was not accessible in Nigeria to some mobile service providers, while the app and website worked on others, according to Reuters tests in Lagos and Abuja.

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

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On Twitter on Wednesday, Buhari’s message in which he threatened to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings violated his policy of ‘abusive behavior’.

In April, the Minister of Information reacted angrily when Twitter chose neighboring Ghana for its first office in Africa. He said the company was affected by misrepresentations in the media about Nigeria, including reports of suppression of protests last year.

Protesters calling for police reform have used social media to organize money, raise money and share alleged evidence of police harassment. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, further wrote Twitter to encourage his followers to donate.

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

A spokesman for Airtel, one of Nigeria’s largest mobile service providers, declined to say on Friday whether the company had received government regulations on the suspension.

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MTN, the largest mobile service provider, did not respond to calls and messages.

By Felix Onuah

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Nigeria launches Twitter days after the president's post was removed
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