Twitter on Wednesday deleted a Tweet shared by the official account of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, claiming the statement — which concerned Nigeria’s 1967-1970 civil war — allegedly violated the U.S.-based company’s rules for acceptable postings.
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” President Buhari wrote in the now-deleted Tweet posted June 1.
Twitter issued a statement on June 2 claiming Buhari’s post “was in violation of the Twitter Rules. The account owner will be required to delete the violative Tweet and spend 12 hours with their account in read-only mode,” the BBC reported.
Twitter claimed Buhari’s Tweet violated its rule on “abusive behavior,” according to Reuters.
“This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules,” read a statement in place of Buhari’s Civil War statement as of June 3. The post included an embedded link to a webpage detailing the “Twitter Rules,” which are numerous and far-reaching.
The “Twitter Rules” clause on “Abuse/Harassment” reads:
You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.
Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed condemned Twitter’s decision to censor Nigeria’s president in a statement to reporters on June 2.
“Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule,” Mohammed said, as quoted by Reuters.
“If Mr. President anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views,” the information minister opined.
Mohammed added that Twitter “had not banned incitement tweets from other groups,” according to the BBC.
Nigerian secessionists representing an ethnic group known as the Igbo people fought a civil war against Nigerian federal government troops from 1967-1970 that killed one million people. Nigeria’s federal government won the war against the separatists, who demanded independence for a region of southeastern Nigeria they call Biafra.
President Buhari served in the Nigerian Army against the secessionists during the civil war and capitalized on his successful army career to stage a military coup in 1983; Buhari ruled Nigeria through a military dictatorship from 1983-1985.
Biafra secessionists have continued to carry out a violent insurgency within Nigeria in the decades since the civil war through a militant group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Nigeria’s federal government declared the IPOB an official terror organization in 2017. Nigerian federal security officials say the IPOB is responsible for a series of terror attacks throughout Nigeria in recent weeks, including “a spate of arson attacks on electoral offices and police stations … especially in the southeast,” Reuters noted on Wednesday. A number of Nigerian police officers have been killed in the attacks.
“Some social media users criticized Buhari’s tweet before it was removed, accusing him of targeting Igbo people from the largest ethnic group in the southeast [of Nigeria],” according to Reuters.
“IPOB is influential in the region and its efforts to revive sentiments over Biafra have prompted a crackdown from security agencies in recent years,” the news agency added.