4th June, 2021
By Bayo Onanuga
The Buhari Government has announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
In a statement released on Twitter by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, government attributed the suspension to what it called 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 Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria”, added Segun Adeyemi, the Special Assistant To The President (Media).
Twitter had come into the crosshairs of the Buhari government after its police deleted two tweets and a video, in which President Buhari threatened to invoke civil war treatment to arsonists, separatists and insurrectionists destroying public assets.
He spoke at a meeting with INEC officials who had complained of losing 42 properties to arson.
Buhari tweeted: “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,’’ the president said.
Twitter said the tweets violated its rules.
The Minister of Information felt it was an affront against the President of Nigeria and wondered why Twitter had not deleted the tweets by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Biafra.
He said the government would not be fooled.
“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,” he said.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious. Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? Has it? The same Twitter during the ENDSARS protests that were funding ENDSARS protesters, it was the first to close the account of the former president of the US, Trump.
“And you see when people were burning police stations and killing policemen in Nigeria during ENDSARS, for Twitter, it was about the right to protest. But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol, it became insurrection.”
“Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views. Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges.
“If an organisation is proscribed, it is different from any other which is not proscribed. Two, any organisation that gives directives to its members, to attack police stations, to kill policemen, to attack correctional centres, to kill warders, and you are now saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that?
“We are the ones guilty of double standards. I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation, a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria and will direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police, the military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed. By whatever name, you can’t justify giving orders to kill policemen or to kill anybody you do not agree with.”
It was not the first time the Buhari administration has demonstrated intolerance against foreign platforms.
It did it against CNN, faulting the global news platform for its claim of casualties in the Lekki shooting by soldiers.
Just yesterday the government also slammed U.S. based Foreign Affairs magazine over an article titled: The Giant Is Failing, a fair account on the unravelling of Nigeria under the Buhari presidency.