Nigeria Orders All Broadcasters to ‘De-Install’ Twitter After Banning Site

A lady tries to tweet with a smartphone in Lagos, on October 29, 2018. - Nigeria has an unenviable reputation around the world for corruption and is known particularly for its "419" email scams, named after the section of the penal code covering fraud. Fake social media accounts of celebrities, …
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Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered all TV and radio stations in the country to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately” on Monday, three days after the West African nation suspended Twitter operations in the country “indefinitely.”

“Broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source … of information gathering for news [sic],” the director of Nigeria’s NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, wrote in a statement issued June 7.

“It would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information [sic],” Idachaba added.

NBC’s edict follows just 72 hours after Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced an “indefinite” suspension of Twitter operations nationwide on June 4.

“The [Nigerian] Federal Government has suspended indefinitely the operations of the microblogging and social networking service Twitter in Nigeria,” the ministry wrote in a press release.

“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday [June 4], citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” the statement read.

Roughly 40 million people are estimated to use the U.S.-based Twitter within Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country.

“As of the early hours of Saturday [June 5], Twitter’s website was inaccessible in Nigeria on some mobile carriers, while its app and website worked on others,” Reuters reporters in the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Abuja told the news agency on June 5.

Nigeria’s decision to suspend Twitter operations nationwide on June 4 came 48 hours after Twitter deleted a post by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2 for allegedly violating the U.S.-based company’s rule on “abusive behavior.”

“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,” read Buhari’s now-deleted Twitter statement.

President Buhari served in the Nigerian Army during Nigeria’s 1967-1970 civil war and fought against the secessionist Igbo people, who demanded independence for a region of southeastern Nigeria they call Biafra. President Buhari capitalized on his successful career in the Nigerian Army during and after the civil war to stage a military coup in 1983 and ruled Nigeria via military dictatorship from 1983-1985.

Buhari’s tweet in reference to Nigeria’s civil war on June 2 was criticized within Nigeria due to ongoing tensions and violence between militant Biafra secessionists — led today by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) — and Nigeria’s federal government. Buhari is an ethnic Fulani, which is a rival tribe of the Igbo, and is viewed by Igbo people as unfairly critical of Biafra separatists.

Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed publicly criticized Twitter for deleting Buhari’s civil war post last week.

“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious,” Mohammed told reporters on June 4, according to the Associated Press, adding that “Twitter had in the past ignored inciting tweets against the Nigerian government.”

Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, personally tweeted last fall in support of an anti-police protest movement within Nigeria known by the hashtag “#EndSARS” on Twitter.

Nigeria’s federal government disbanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian national police force in October 2020 following allegations of corruption within the unit. Despite the action, anti-police protests continued across Nigeria for weeks afterward, in part due to the movement’s support and funding on Twitter and other social media platforms. The demonstrations devolved into violent rioting and looting in several instances.

“In the protests’ wake, [Lai] Mohammed called for ‘some form of regulation’ on social media to combat ‘fake news,'” Reuters noted on June 5.

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