Federal Government Announces Suspension of Twitter Operations, Orders NBC to License Social Media Platforms in Nigeria

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Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture

The Federal Government of Nigeria on June 4, 2021, announced the indefinite suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform, Twitter, in the country. Mr SegunAdeyemi, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media, who is attached to the Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the announcement through a statement issued on behalf of the Minister.

The statement announcing the suspension was posted on the Ministry’s Twitter handle @FMIC and it said: “The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.”

It cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” asone reason for the suspension.

At the same time, the Minister said the “Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all Over The Top (OTT) and social media operations in Nigeria.”

On June 2, Twitter had deleted President MuhammaduBuhari’s tweet in which he made reference to Nigeria’s 1967 – 1970 civil war. He said in the tweet that that most of those “misbehaving” in Nigeria’s southeast region are too young to understand the gravity of war adding, “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

The tweet violated Twitter rules which prohibit users from making statements that “threaten violence against an individual or a group of people; engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so; nor promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

In compliance with the Information Ministry order, the NBC ordered broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts while the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) asked print media organisations in Nigeria to also deactivate their Twitter accounts.

The Minister of Justice, Mr. AbubakarMalami, (SAN) also threatened to prosecute Nigerians who defy government suspension of the platform and goes ahead to tweet.