FG lifts suspension on Twitter operations

Uba Group


The Federal Government has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am, January 13.

The approval was given following a memo written to the President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim, signed by Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Chairman, Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement and
Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency.

The Minister was said to have requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the recommendation by the Technical Committee, Nigeria-Twitter Engagement.

Recall that on June 5, 2021, the Federal Government suspended the operation of Twitter through an announcement made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

Thereafter, the President constituted a seven-man Presidential Committee to engage Twitter. Subsequently, the Presidential Committee set a 20-member Technical Committee comprising relevant government agencies.

The memo that was obtained read that “The immediate and remote causes of the suspension was the unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, among others.

“Issues bordering on national security, cohesion and the effects of the abuse of the Twitter platform forced the FGN to suspend the operation of Twitter to address the direct and collateral issues around its operations in Nigeria.

“The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators wield enormous influence over the fabric of our society, social interaction and economic choices. These platforms can be used as either a tool or a weapon. Every nation is grappling with how to balance its usage efficiently.

“Without balancing, every citizen’s security, privacy, social well-being, and development are at stake. Therefore, our action is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for our nation without jeopardising the justified interests of the company.

“The process of resolving this impasse between the FGN and Twitter Inc. has helped lay a foundation for a mutually beneficial future with endless possibilities. Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians ranging from young innovators to public sector officials who find it helpful to engage their audience. Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria.

“While appreciating all Nigerians, especially the vibrant Nigerian youths who have borne with the long wait to resolve this impasse, the FGN is happy to say that the gains made from this shared national sacrifice are immeasurable.”

The memo listed the gains to include ongoing economic and training opportunities; getting a better understanding of how to use the Twitter platform effectively to improve businesses; revenue generation from the operation of Twitter in Nigeria; coordinated relationship between Nigerian government and Twitter; and reduction of cyber criminal activities such as terrorism, cyber stalking, hate speech, etc.; and working with Twitter and other global companies to build an acceptable code of conduct following the global best practice.

The memo stated that the FGN asked Twitter to fulfil some conditions before restoring its services. It read that Twitter had agreed to act in acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices as applicable in developed countries.