The activities of microblogging platform Twitter has been suspended indefinitely by the Nigerian government. Ironically the suspension was made public via Twitter by the country’s ministry of information on Friday.
Recall that the government expressed its displeasure over Twitter’s decision to delete president Buhari’s genocidal tweet which generated a backlash during the week. In his official reaction, the country’s information and culture minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed had accused Twitter of playing “double standards.”
The government has now gone ahead to suspend the activities of Twitter; a step that will further cast the government in bad light in the face of its citizens. The controversial tweets referred to the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War that took the lives of many citizens mostly people from the Eastern part of the country. Quoting the Nigerian leader, Buhari threatened to deal with “those misbehaving today” in “the language they will understand.”
In one of the tweets, the ministry accused Twitter of engaging in “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
As at the time of writing this, Twitter services are still accessible with thousands of Nigerians hitting hard at the government for taking such a decision. The suspension, however, may not take effect immediately, but some human rights activists are already advising Nigerians to install VPNs, which would of course, enable easy access to Twitter services.
In a short statement made available to TechCabal, a Twitter spokesperson 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.”
The relationship between the Nigerian government and Twitter has never been rosy. In April, the Nigerian government did not hide its feelings when Twitter announced that its first African office will be sited in Ghana. Nigerians for instance were shocked to hear that a sister West African country was picked ahead of it.
Terrorism, poor economic policies among several other harsh decisions are hindering the country from attracting the right investments. While Nigeria may boast of having the numbers, the same cannot be said about its environment, which may not be friendly to business now.
A few factors may have accounted for why Ghana was preferred to Nigeria and maybe others as well. In Nigeria for instance, a bill to suppress free speech and stifle the use of social media has been generating tension in the West African country. The government of Nigeria wants to “regulate” the social media; which of course is against one of Twitter’s policies and vision.