- Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said Twitter's suspension was in response to long-observed misdemeanours
- Shehu clarified that the suspension was not just due to the "disappointing" removal of President Buhari's tweet
- The presidential spokesperson social media platforms must be alive to their responsibilities and curb the spread of fake news which has fueled violence in many countries
The explanation is contained in a statement released on Saturday evening, June 5, by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.
The presidential spokesman, nevertheless, said the removal of President Buhari's tweet was disappointing, adding that Twitter's action appeared to be based on a misunderstanding of Nigeria's challenges.
The statement reads:
"The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post. There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.
"Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today."
Shehu added that President Buhari had recently commented on how information posted on social media platforms has fuelled violence of high proportions in many countries.
Tech companies must be responsible
The presidency further said major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities, adding that they cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of fake news.
Shehu reiterated that President Buhari has been warning against social media's disruptive and divisive influences.
He added that the suspension is not a knee-jerk reaction to the removal of the president's post.
Buhari's tweet not a threat but a statement of fact
Shehu said the now-deleted tweet is not a threat but a statement of fact.
The statement reads:
"A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.
"When the President said that they will be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.
Shehu insisted that the president's controversial tweet was not a promotion of hate but a pledge to defend Nigerian's to freedom from harm.
The presidential spokesman reiterated that IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law and its members are responsible for the death of innocent Nigerians.
Shehu said Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of Nigeria's civil war, adding that the Buhari government will not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.
Chyoma Ogbonna said:
"Am still waiting for the suspension of Facebook so that the President will address Nigerias on National Tv not on social media. Enough is enough biko"
Aliyu Surajo Rijau said:
"With due respect, the suspension shouldn't be temporary please, it should permanent."
Cbn Gov Akinsola Akinboye said
"Twitter should understand that Nigeria Sovereignty is NOT negotiable…
"President Buhari is my President and not Jack"
Khalifa Jibreel said:
"Use this energy you used in banning twitter in Nigeria to get rid of poverty, unemployment and insecurity in the country."
Oshk Fela Castro said:
"The ban is ineffective because millions of Nigerians are still tweeting as am writing this comment with the aid of VPN. No retreat, no surrender. This is democracy. We move. Peace."
Malami orders prosecution of Twitter ban violators
Meanwhile, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), has ordered the immediate prosecution of Nigerians who are still accessing Twitter despite the suspension of the microblogging platform
Despite the suspension, it is gathered that some Nigerians are still accessing the social media platform through a virtual private network (VPN).
The development prompted AGF Malami to instruct the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to persecute those violating the Twitter suspension.