Nigeria suspends Twitter days after president’s post removed

Nigeria announced on Friday that Twitter’s operations have been halted indefinitely, two days after the social media company withdrew a message from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening to punish regional separatists. 

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, stated that the government took action because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Mohammed did not specify how the suspension will be implemented or provide any information about the undermining operations. 

When queried about the suspension’s specifics, a ministry assistant stated: “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.

On Friday, Twitter’s website and app were still operational in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and commercial hub Lagos. 

Buhari’s promise to punish organizations accused for attacks on government buildings breached Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy, the company said on Wednesday. 

When Twitter chose Ghana for its first African office in April, the communications minister responded strongly. He said that media misrepresentations of Nigeria, such as allegations of crackdowns on protests last year, had affected the company’s decision.

Demonstrators pushing for police reform utilized social media to organize, raise funds, and publish purported evidence of police misconduct. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, also sent out a tweet encouraging his followers.

Mohammed called for “some type of regulation” on social media to combat “false news” in the aftermath of the protests.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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