The announcement of Twitter’s ban in Nigeria had seemed like a joke. This is probably because it was preceded by a desperate press conference which was organised by Lai Mohammed, the country’s controversial Minister of Information. For a while now, Mr Mohammed had been on a cold-hearted campaign against Twitter. Interestingly, it took the removal of one of his boss’s tweets for him to finally get his heart desire. Now that Twitter is gone, hopefully the man will live happily ever after.
What Caused the Twitter Ban?
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the situation, Nigerians living in Nigeria are currently unable to access microblogging site, Twitter. The site went down late Friday night, shortly after the Nigerian Government ironically announced on Twitter that it was suspending its operation in the country.
The events leading up to Twitter’s ban in Nigeria began earlier this week when one of President Buhari’s tweets was removed from the platform. According to Twitter, the removed tweet violated its community guidelines, specifically its “abusive behaviour” policy. To this end, not only was the tweet removed the President’s Twitter handle was also temporarily suspended for 12 hours. See the controversial tweet below.
“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,” wrote the President, in response to separatist agitations which have engulfed the country in recent times.
Twitter Has Condemned the Ban
In the meantime, Twitter has strongly condemned the ban in Nigeria, describing it as concerning. The company also said it would investigate the development and provide updates.
First Social Media Ban in Nigeria
Up until the ban, Twitter has been one of the most used social media platforms in Nigerian. The platform was preferred by many Nigerians, including the government itself. The platform has also been widely used arguably successful and well coordinated activism, case in view being the #EndSARS protests of last October. Little wonder the Government has always perceived Twitter as a threat. The fact that Twitter’s Founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, had even endorsed the #EndSARS protest last year raised red flags among government officials, especially Lai Mohammed who had alleged that Twitter’s mission in Nigeria is “suspect”.
By the way, this is the first time any Social Media platform has been banned in Nigeria. Elsewhere in the world, the likes of Twitter and Facebook have all faced bans, often by governments seeking to either suppress decent or control information flow. All along, Nigerians never imagined that a time would come when this would be their reality. The only time it seemed remotely possible was during the #EndSARS protests. Now, it has become a reality. And nobody knows when the ban would be over.
Let’s be clear, by banning Twitter, the President Buhari Administration has added one more thing to the list of things it has denied Nigerians. I mean, before his presidency Nigerians enjoyed Twitter in peace. Twitter even played a very instrumental role in helping him defeat his predecessor in 2015. But now, he has banned the platform just because one of his tweets was taken down. He didn’t care about how this could affect the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians whose livelihood now depend on Twitter. He also probably never considered the impact this could have on the economy.
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