Nigeria suspends Twitter indefinitely after it censored President Muhammadu Buhari
Not long after Twitter deleted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's tweet for violating its rules, the country's government revealed on Friday that it was "indefinitely" suspending the microblogging platform. The actual date of suspension wasn't clear because the government made the announcement on Twitter itself. Meanwhile, Reuters correspondents in the country had verified the platform was accessible on some mobile carriers as of Saturday morning.
However, BBC reporters in Lagos and Abuja haven't been able to use Twitter through two of Nigeria's biggest telecom providers, MTN and Airtel. This has prompted the search for "VPN" to trend in the country. Meanwhile, the country's Information Minister Lai Mohammed cited "the persistent use of the platform for activities... capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence" in his official statement justifying the ban.
"The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter's operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning," said Twitter in an official statement in response to its services being suspended indefinitely. "We're investigating and will provide updates when we know more," it added.
Twitter was banned in response to the deletion of President Buhari's tweet referencing the country's civil war while warning those causing recent separatist violence in the southeast. Buhari, who was a former general prior to assuming the presidency, spoke out against militants from the banned separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) whose armed wing, the Eastern Security Network, allegedly attacked police and election infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Mohammed accused Twitter of selective censorship while emphasizing the microblogging platform had earlier ignored violent messages from a separatist leader. He also accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of exhibiting bias after he showed support for the 2020 #EndSARS protests alleging Nigerian police brutality. "The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious," Mohammed said while citing the CEO's and the platform's partisan nature.
"Twitter may have its own rules, it's not the universal rule. If Mr. President anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views," said Nigeria's Information Minister while addressing reporters.
London-based NGO Amnesty International has weighed in on the matter, calling upon Nigeria to reverse Twitter's "unlawful suspension" posthaste. Other human rights activists have also condemned the ban. However, the country's tough stance on social media comes after its 2019 announcement to tighten regulations in the wake of fake news and disinformation being disseminated on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.