The Federal Government has suspended indefinitely the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
This was announced by Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, in a statement issued by Segun Adeyemi, his Special Assistant on Media, on Friday.
The suspension comes two days after the microblogging site deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari after it was deemed to have “violated the Twitter rules”.
It is, however, ironic that the announcement was made on the same platform that was announced as being banned.
Mohammed had on Wednesday reacted angrily to the development, claiming that “the mission of Nigeria is suspect”.
According to the statement on Friday, the ban was placed on Twitter due to the “persistent use” of the platform in purportedly encouraging activities that “undermines Nigeria’s existence”.
The statement read: “The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
“The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting l Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”
President Buhari had after meeting with the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday following the attacks on the commission’s offices in the South-East region said his administration will treat those fomenting trouble in the country “in the language they understand”.
However, the president’s comment elicited varied responses, with many Nigerians saying on social media that he had just threatened to deal with innocent citizens over the actions of a negligent few.
Many Nigerians inundated the microblogging site with requests for the removal of the controversial tweet and a suspension of the president’s account.
Despite initially saying that President Buhari’s tweet did not violate its rules, Twitter reversed its stance later on Wednesday, deleting the tweet.
According to the social media platform, “this tweet violated the Twitter rules”.
But providing the official reaction of the government when he addressed state house correspondents, the Information Minister said Twitter’s rules are not universal law and accused it of double standards.
According to him, Twitter ignores “hate” messages from the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), but was quick to enforce its rules on Buhari.