Nigeria lifts 7-month suspension after Twitter agrees to conditions

LAGOS, 13 Jan 2022:

Nigeria today lifted the suspension on the social network Twitter imposed seven months ago after the platform accepted conditions imposed by the government, authorities reported.

“President Muhammadu Buhari approved lifting the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria,” the country’s authorities said in a statement released late yesterday.

In October, Buhari announced in a speech to the nation on the occasion of the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence that the suspension would be lifted if the company accepted a series of conditions.

Those requirements, according to the president, were related to “security and national cohesion,” “fair taxation” and the “registration, physical presence and representation” of the American company, as well as “conflict resolution” and the “local content.”

“Twitter has agreed to comply with all the conditions established by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” The statement read.

The company agreed, among other things, to appoint a national representative to communicate with the country’s authorities and “fulfil tax obligations applicable to its operations under Nigerian law,” officials said.

The Nigerian government on June 4 “indefinitely” suspended the platform in its territory for “persistent use of the platform for activities that could undermine the legal existence” of the country, the most populous in Africa with some 200 million population.

Days earlier, the social network had removed a publication by Buhari himself in which he condemned the attacks on different buildings in the southeastern region of the country – police stations, prisons and offices of the Electoral Commission. The government blamed the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group that calls for the secession of that area of ​​​​the country.

In his tweet, the president, who participated as a general in the civil war waged between 1967 and 1970 with the secessionist provinces of Biafra, said “many of those who act badly today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of life that occurred during the war”.

“Those of us who were on the (battle) field for 30 months, who lived through the war, will treat them with the language they understand,” the president added.

As documented by local media, numerous Twitter users denounced the publication and criticised the president for comparing the attacks to an armed conflict that killed up to 100,000 soldiers, while between 500,000 and two million civilians perished from hunger.

Through a statement, Twitter then said the head of state’s tweet violated his rules, which prohibit content that incites or promotes violence against an individual or a group of people.

The government-ordered suspension drew criticism from many Nigerians and activists who see it as a crackdown on freedom of expression as well as a blow that has caused huge losses to the country’s economy.

– EFE