Analysis: Twitter ban, FG's stance and Nigerians' anger

Analysis: Twitter ban, FG's stance and Nigerians' anger

The federal government of Nigeria on Friday, June 4, announced an indefinite suspension of the use of the popular micro-blogging platform, Twitter, following the deletion of a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, while giving the reason for the government's action, said that social media platform was guilty of promoting activities that devalue Nigeria’s corporate existence.

Nigerians berate FG over Twitter ban
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he would keep to himself when the Twitter ban would be lifted. Credit: Femi Adesina.
Source: Facebook

Mohammed, in a statement issued on Friday, June 4, in Abuja, also said that the suspension was part of the regulation of all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The ban of Twitter has generated mixed reactions among Nigerians both home and the Diaspora. While some felt that the deletion of Buhari's tweet was an affront on Nigeria as a country, others described the action taken by the government as a violation of the freedom of expression of Nigerians.

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Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice had on Saturday, June 5, ordered the prosecution of Nigerians defying the federal government’s ban on Twitter.

In his reactions, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, ordered the immediate probe of the decision by the federal government to ban the usage of Twitter in the country.

The decision by the speaker did not go down well with members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who insisted on the immediate reversal of the ban pending the outcome of an investigation.

The federal government has given a condition to lift its indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

TheCable also reports that Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, said at a meeting with some envoys that Twitter’s operations in Nigeria would be restored only if the platform can be used responsibly.

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Onyeama said there is no definite timeline for that, adding that the condition would be a responsible use of social media and that really has to be it.

Nigerians react, lambast President Buhari

An award-winning journalist and former editor of TheCable, Fisayo Soyombo, was one of the Nigerians who condemned the suspension of Twitter by the federal government as he labelled the government’s decision shameful.

He said:

"It's the realisation that this government can't see the divisiveness and irresponsibility of that Buhari tweet and the barefacedness with which it is going about it. The most shameful thing about the ban of Twitter in Nigeria is not even that it was announced."

A human rights lawyer, Clement Nwankwo, said the “unconstitutional” move by the federal government should be immediately reversed.

Nwankwo noted:

"Nigerian government suspension of Twitter a medium of free expression and communication is bizarre and unconstitutional and should be immediately reversed. The suspension exposes Nigeria to national and international ridicule and is unsustainable."

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Aljazeera also reports that the executive director of Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and digital rights, Gbenga Sesan, said the move “will only end in disgrace” and urged users to download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to retain access.

Buhari's response to Twitter ban

Fielding questions during Arise TV interview on Thursday, June 10, on when Twitter’s suspension would be lifted in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari said he would like to keep it with himself.


Although the deletion of President Buhari's tweet is viewed as an insult to Nigeria since the platform needs to be neutral, suspending Twitter is not the solution, especially for a country that has a huge record of being one of the poverty-stricken countries in the world.

Most Nigerian youths who help companies promote their businesses earn their livings through Twitter and the social media platform is also effective tool for money-making.

The federal government should weigh its options as regards the suspension of Twitter and come up with a win-win solution.


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