Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture has accused Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder, of sponsoring #ENDSARS protests and ultimately causing the destruction of lives and properties in Nigeria.
Nigerians, mostly young citizens, mobilised via the social media platform, Twitter, to coordinate protests across the country last year against police brutality. The protesters also demanded for police reforms and justice for victims of police brutality.
During an interview on Radio Nigeria on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the Minister alleged that Dorsey helped procure a bulk of the funds which helped fuel the protests.
He added that Dorsey was responsible for the numerous loss of lives and properties recorded during the protests.
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protests,” he said.
According to the minister, the carnage during the #EndSARS movement resulted in the loss of lives, including 37 police officers, six soldiers, 57 civilians, with destruction of properties worth billions of naira.
“One hundred and sixty-four police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisations were looted while 243 public properties were looted,” he said.
“Eighty-one warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by Lagos State Government were burnt to ashes.’’
But a fact-check by The Cable found Mohammed’s claim about Dorsey funding the protest as misleading.
According to The Cable, Dorsey promoted the protest on his personal Twitter account, asking for funding support for the demonstration.
There was, however, no evidence that he donated to the movement by himself.
The tension between the Nigerian government and Dorsey follows the ban on Twitter operations in the country, after the site deleted a divisive tweet by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
In defence of the government’s decision, the minister said Twitter provided a platform for those with the intention of destroying Nigeria.
“Twitter has become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter who consistently used it to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run down INEC offices and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty,” Mohammed said in defence of the government’s action.
“Every attempt to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader was not taken seriously,’’ he added.
The minister, while addressing the freedom of speech impediment brought about by the Twitter ban, said that the country had to be in peace before its citizens can aim to exercise freedom of speech and seek a source of livelihood.
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