Why did Nigeria ban Twitter?

The Nigerian government announced a ban on Twitter in the country.
The Nigerian government has banned Twitter in the country.
The Nigerian government has banned Twitter in the country. Unsplash

The Nigerian government on Friday announced that it was suspending Twitter operations in the country indefinitely. The announcement came two days after the microblogging site removed a tweet by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Here is everything you need to know:

Who is President Muhammadu Buhari and what did he tweet?

Muhammadu Buhari is the President of Nigeria since 2015. He is also been a Nigerian military leader and politician who served as Nigeria’s head of state in the year 1984-85, after taking power in a military Coup that ousted Yakubu Gowon in 1975.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the captial city of Abuja, Nigera on April 15, 2021
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the captial city of Abuja, Nigera on April 15, 2021Twitter/@NGRPresident

In the deleted tweet, Buhari had made a reference to the country's 30-month civil war in 1967-1970, warning "those who wanted the government to fail" to desist from fomenting trouble. In the 1967 civil war, secessionists fought to create an independent Biafra for the ethnic Igbo people. More than one million died in the war due to fighting, starvation and disease.

“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” Buhari warned in a tweet that was taken down.

Buhari’s account was put on hold for 12 hours after he threatened to punish regional secessionists for attacks on government buildings.

President Buhari was referring to recent attacks in Nigeria’s southeast region where a spate of arson attacks on electoral offices and police stations has been reported in the recent weeks.

The Nigerian government has banned Twitter in the country.
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What did the Nigerian information ministry say?

Information Minister Lai Mohammed on Friday said that government officials took the step because the platform was being used “for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence.”

"The federal government has suspended, indefinitely, the activities of the microblogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria," the Ministry of Information and Culture said in the statement, reported Africanews.

“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious,” Mohammed said, adding that Twitter had in the past ignored “inciting” tweets against the Nigerian government.

"We have a country to rule, and we will do so to the best of our ability. Twitter's mission in Nigeria is very suspect, they have an agenda. The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious," Mohammed said.

“Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending," Mohammed wondered

Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The main aim of IPOB is to create an independent state for the people of the old Eastern Region of Nigeria through an independence referendum. He lives in exile in Israel.

What has been the Twitter reaction?

Earlier, a statement from Twitter defended its action to take down President’s Buhari’s tweet, saying that the tweet "was in violation of the Twitter Rules”

Post-suspension, Twitter said the decision to suspend operations in Africa’s most populous nation was “deeply concerning”.

“The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” a statement from US tech Giant said.

How did Nigerians react to the Twitter ban?

Nigerians social media users expressed outrage after the government announced the indefinite suspension of the tech giant’s operations in the country.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International’s Nigeria branch also condemned the move and called on authorities to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights”.

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