The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has directed all social media platforms and online broadcasting service providers operating in Nigeria to apply for a broadcast licence.
The directive was issued in an advertorial signed by Armstrong Idachaba, NBC acting Director-General, which was published in newspapers on Thursday.
This comes amid the ban on Twitter by the Federal Government and the directive that the microblogging site and other social media platforms must register as a Nigerian company for them “to do business in Nigeria”.
According to Idachaba, the NBC establishment code empowers the commission to ask the companies to be licensed.
The advertorial read: “The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) hereby directs every Online Broadcast Service provider and Social Media Platforms operating within the Nigerian State to apply and obtain broadcast licence for their service(s).
“Note that any Online Broadcast Service Provider that fails to obtain a licence will be considered an illegal entity.”
Section two (b) of the NBC act of 2004 states: “(1) The Commission shall have [the] responsibility of: Receiving, processing and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of radio and television stations including (i) cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting.”
The Federal Government announced the suspension of Twitter on Friday, two days after the microblogging site deleted a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari after it was deemed to have “violated the Twitter rules”.
In a statement by Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture on Friday, the ban placed on Twitter was due to the “persistent use” of the platform in purportedly encouraging activities that “undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
President Buhari had after meeting with the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on 1 June 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 Mohammed, the Minister of Information, hours after the tweet was deleted accused Twitter of double standards, insisting that the microblogging site’s rules are not the universal laws.
The minister subsequently announced the suspension of Twitter on 4 June.