In response to Twitter deleting a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari which the social media platform deemed as inciting violence, the Nigerian government on Friday suspended Twitter’s operation in Nigeria indefinitely.
The government said it would have none of Twitter’s actions to undermine the “corporate existence” of Nigeria and its meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
The Twitter ban is a step towards further social media regulation, according to the statement released by Nigeria’s ministry of information.
This means that the long-sought social media regulation resolve of the government which had been heavily criticised was underway.
This added Nigeria to an infamous list of eight countries that have banned Twitter in recent months and analysts said it is reminiscent of Mr Buhari’s years as a military dictator who wielded prosecutorial powers without checks.
Violators risk being charged to court, Attorney-General Abubakar Malami said, a threat he failed to substantiate with a clear legal footing. Lawyers also told Mr Malami his statement had no legal spine.
The international community, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland and Canada berated the ban which they said passes a poor message about Nigeria to investors and businesses.
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, one of the few governors that spoke publicly about the ban, opposed the censorship.
The government would not budge. It accused Twitter of double standard by not deleting alleged inciteful tweets by the leader of the separatist group, IPOB.
After saying the tweets were not a violation of its rules, Twitter made a u-turn by deleting Mr Kanu’s tweets.
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