Nigeria has suspended the use of Twitter across the country, just days after a tweet posted by President Muhammadu Buhari was removed for what the social media platform said was a violation of its rules.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, announced the decision in a statement on Friday, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the reason. He also said the National Broadcasting Commission is to immediately begin a licensing process for social media operations in Nigeria.
On Tuesday, the embattled Buhari – dealing with chronic communal violence in several corners of the country – posted a Twitter message directed at opposition groups and threatened to “treat them in the language they understand.”
Buhari did not mention a specific group but it was believed to be a message for Biafran separatists in the nation’s south. The tweet was removed and a temporary suspension placed on Buhari’s account.
The Twitter ban was quickly denounced by journalists, human rights groups and Nigerian opposition leaders, ironically enough on the Twitter platform itself.
Amnesty International Nigeria said Twitter was “widely used by Nigerians to exercise their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression and access to information.” Amnesty further said the decision was inconsistent with Nigeria’s responsibilities under international human and political rights agreements.
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights,” the Amnesty group said.
Image: Buhari file