Human RightsNews

#TwitterBan: Nigerian President Names 6 Ministers, Others To Engage Twitter

More than two weeks after suspension of Twitter operations in the country, Nigerian government has unveiled a committee to engage with the company.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has named a team comprising six ministers and representatives of other relevant agencies as part of a team to engage with Twitter’s management in the wake of the site’s suspension in the country.

The approval was revealed in Abuja on Tuesday, June 22, in a statement by Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, who would lead the team.

Other members of the team are Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and  Minister of Justice, Dr Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, and  Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment.

Following the indefinite suspension of its operations in Nigeria for alleged conduct that could jeopardize the country’s corporate existence, Twitter wrote to President Buhari, asking to meet with him to discuss the suspension and establish a course ahead, the statement claimed.

Prior to the suspension, Twitter deleted President Buhari’s controversial message warning secessionists in the Southeast and promising to deal with them in the “language they understand.”

The removal of the President’s tweets was initially cited as a factor in the suspension, but, according to the government, it was ultimately based on “a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real-world violent consequences.”

Twitter said the announcement of the suspension by Information Minister Lai Mohammed on Friday, June 4, 2021, was “extremely alarming.”

Human rights organisations and international powers have slammed the measure, claiming it would restrict free speech in Nigeria.

Justice Minister, Abubakar Malemi, said in a statement that he had “ordered for urgent prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter activities in Nigeria,” and that the public prosecutor had been instructed to “swing into action.”

After being instructed to do so, mobile phone companies barred access to Twitter, however some users are circumventing the ban by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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