Concerns have continued to mount as many Nigerians expresses shock over the decision to suspend microblogging platform known as Twitter as it deleted President Mohammadu Buhari’s on Wednesday, June 2nd 2021 in which he threatened to treat Nigerians misbehaving in “the Language they understand”
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement yesterday in Abuja, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Mohammed said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
The President had in a tweet shared on Tuesday, cited Nigeria’s civil war experience between 1967 and 1970 and noted that most of those “misbehaving” by burning electoral offices were maybe too young to understand the gravity of war.
In the tweet, he also threatened to deal with the arsonists, saying: “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The tweet, however, attracted millions of comments and widespread condemnation, with many Nigerians criticizing the President, especially for making reference to the civil war in which millions of Nigerians, mostly of Igbo extraction, were killed.
Some Nigerians had called on Twitter to suspend his account, claiming the President’s tweet “expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide,” as stated on Twitter’s usage policy.
But Twitter, on Wednesday, deleted the message, stressing that the post violated its rules. The social networking service, on Thursday, also deleted the video of the tweet.
Like Twitter, Facebook has also deleted Buhari ‘s alleged offensive post.
“In line with our global policies, we’ve removed a post from President Buhari’s Facebook page for violating our Community Standards against inciting violence.
“We remove any content, from individuals or organizations that violate our policies on Facebook,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Twitter has expressed “deep concern” over the government’s decision to suspend its operations in Nigeria. Its Senior Policy Communications Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sarah Hart, who made this known in a statement, said the company was investigating the development.
“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 statement said. Based of the development, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is to meet on Monday, June 7, to discuss strategies for the implementation of the government’s directive.
In his reaction to government’s clamp down on Twitter, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said, “The evocation of the civil war, where millions of civilians perished, is an unworthy emotive ploy that has run its course, adding, “Finally, the chickens have come home to roost.
“It does not take the formal declaration of hostilities, with or without lethal bombardments, for a nation to find it shell-shocked. The populace of this nation is already in that shell-shocked condition. So, what is there left to shock?”
While rejecting the ban, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the move as a draconian action and a slide towards a fascist regime.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it was appalled that the Federal Government could exhibit such “primitive intolerance and power intoxication because the social media giant demonstrated international best practices in not allowing the Buhari presidency to use Twitter as a platform to propagate and spread the Buhari administration’s hatred towards Nigerians.”
The party asserted that the suspension of twitter, is “a vexatious, condemnable and barbaric move to muzzle Nigerians, particularly the youths, ostensibly to prevent them from holding the overtly corrupt, vindictive and divisive Buhari administration accountable for its atrocities, including human right violations, patronizing of terrorists and outright suppressive acts against innocent Nigerians.”
Also reacting, Amnesty International, Nigeria, with the Twitter handle @AmnestyNigeria, wrote: “Amnesty International condemns the Nigerian government’s suspension of Twitter @Twitter in #NigeriaFlag of Nigeria, a social media widely used by Nigerians to exercise their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
“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.
“This action is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Popular user, @Segalink, wrote: “It is only in Nigeria that Govt will suspend Twitter operations using their handle on Twitter to communicate same. Only God will save us in this country.”
Government critic, @Renoomokri, wrote: “The suspension of the activities of @Twitter in Nigeria by the @MBuhari administration should be ignored by @Jack. The Buhari government has no means to effect the suspension, and even members of the administration are still on Twitter.”
Dino Melaye On Twitter @dino_melaye: “Naija Govt sha. Using Twitter platform to announce Twitter suspension. Na im Baba Fela dey call babanla nonsense.”
For Farooq Kperogi @farooqkperogi: “Does Lai Mohammed know that there’s a little something called VPN that Nigerians can use to circumvent the Federal Government’s so-called ban on Twitter in Nigeria? These ignorant, prehistoric creatures in gov’t never cease to amaze with their insufferable boneheadedness.”