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Nigeria has banned Twitter with the claim that the social media giant is undermining the country’s ‘corporate existence’.
The ban was announced on 4 June.
In a statement published on Twitter, The Federal Ministry of Information & Culture announced it had suspended Twitter’s operations.
The ministry cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the reason for the ban.
In the same statement, the ministry announced the government had directed Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission to start licensing all Over The Top (OTT) and social media operations in the country.
The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.
— Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021
The next day, CNN reported that Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami directed his office to arrest and prosecute anyone caught using the social media app.
Twitter’s Public Policy Team responded to the ban saying it was deeply concerned. The company cited access to a free and open internet as an essential human right.
The team added it would work to restore access in the country.
We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.
We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 5, 2021
The suspension came a day after Twitter removed a tweet by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. In the tweet, Buhari threatened pro-Biafra groups blamed for carrying out several attacks against the government this year.
Twitter said the tweet violated its policy regarding abusive behaviour on the platform.
In April, Twitter announced it would open its first African office in Ghana. It cited the country’s support of free speech and online freedom as the reason for the choice.
Feature image: Unsplash/Ravi Sharma