FG’s suspension of Twitter ignites global outrage

The Federal Government on Friday said it had indefinitely suspended Twitter’s activities in Nigeria, accelerating a bombardment of criticisms and outrage across the world. 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and leading advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), in separate statements, demanded the immediate reversal of the suspension order or they would take the government to court. 

The Twitter suspension came two days after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said the government had acted because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” 

Mohammed did not spell out what form the suspension would take or give more details on the undermining activities. His ministry also announced Twitter’s suspension on Twitter.

When asked about the details of the suspension, a ministerial aide told Reuters: “Wait and see how things will turn out.” Twitter, however, said it is investigating its “deeply concerning” suspension of operations by the Nigerian government, and “will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement released.

Twitter’s website and app continued to work across Nigeria on Friday. On Wednesday, Twitter said Buhari’s post threatening to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings had violated Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy. 

In his reaction, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, in a statement, said: “Heard the news of Buhari’s ban on Twitter an hour or so after sending off ‘To Shock and Awe’ to the print media. Kindly add my total lack of surprise at this petulant gesture, unbecoming of a democratically elected president. 

“If Buhari has a problem with Twitter, he is advised to sort it out between them personally, the way Donald Trump did, not rope in the right to free expression of the Nigerian citizen as collateral damage. 

“In any case, this is a technical problem Nigerians should be able to work their way around. The field of free expression remains wide open, free of any dictatorial spasms.” 

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