The Federal Government of Nigeria says it has suspended the operations of US-based microblogging site, Twitter indefinitely, the Ministry of Information and Culture announced in a statement on Friday.
— Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021
This comes after the social media platform deleted the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet. The nature and tone of the president’s tweet may have triggered the company to take it down.
Why did Nigeria ban Twitter?
In a tweet on Tuesday, President Muhammadu threatened to deal with those in the country’s southeast, whom he blames for the region’s recurrent attacks on public infrastructure.
“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 went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
President Buhari wrote in the now-deleted tweet, referring to the brutal two-year Nigeria-Biafra war, which killed an estimated one to three million people, mostly from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of the country between 1967-1970.
The government of Nigeria used Twitter to announce the ban
The irony of the situation was quite loud when the message popped up on the official Twitter handle of the Ministry of Information and Culture. “You’re using Twitter to suspend Twitter? Are you not mad?” one user replied.
According to the Nigerian government, Twitter has become a hotbed for misinformation and fake news through which “real-world violent consequences” have ensued in the country.
Nigerians may be prosecuted for using Twitter after ban
In a statement, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said he had “directed for the immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria”, telling the public prosecutor to “swing into action”.
The message was targeted at both corporations and individuals, the minister’s spokesperson Umar Gwandu told the BBC.
Broadcasting companies such as television networks and radio stations have been asked to delete their Twitter accounts or face prosecution.
What is Twitter doing about its suspension in Nigeria?
Twitter is yet to respond to the move.
Prior to the suspension, Twitter had plans to establish a regional headquarters in Ghana with focus on Nigeria. With the ban in place, it is not clear what the future holds for Twitter’s HQ.