Twitter has reacted to the indefinite suspension of the social media site by the Nigerian government, expressing concern.

A statement by a Twitter spokesperson to TechCabal said:

The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more.”

While Twitter does not have physical offices in Nigeria, the platform is freely available in the country and has up to 2 million users, according to some estimates. The government’s suspension as announced by Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture, has been interpreted as a potential directive to Internet Service Providers to cut off users’ access to the social media platform

As we have reported, the suspension is a culmination of a three-day drama. It started when Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating its rules.

A few hours after Twitter’s action, Mohammed, the Information Minister, held a press conference in which he denounced the US social media company for having a suspicious agenda in Nigeria. He accused Twitter of enabling violence during #EndSARS protests in October 2020.

In the end, he justified his suspension of Twitter on the grounds of “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”  

The suspension brings Twitter squarely into the heat of the debate about the intersection of democracy and internet freedom in Africa. 

When they announced that Ghana will be the location of their first Africa office, Twitter said it was because Ghana is “a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.” 

Twitter remains available in Nigeria at the time of publishing this – two and half hours after the announcement was posted on the Information Ministry’s verified Twitter account. It remains to be seen when the suspension takes effect and what actions Twitter takes.

Update: Twitter has now been shutdown in Nigeria.

Alexander Onukwue | Author

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