Nigeria Lifts Monthslong Twitter Ban Following Backlash Over Buhari Tweet
19:51 GMT 12.01.2022 (Updated: 20:41 GMT 12.01.2022)
After six months of blocking access to Twitter, the government of Africa's most populous country has lifted the social media giant's suspension, Nigerian media reported Wednesday.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022," said Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, chairman of the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement and director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency, according to the Lagos-based Daily Post.
"Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built," Abdullahi explained, adding that the San Francisco-based corporation had agreed "to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries."
The social media app was "indefinitely" suspended in Nigeria in June 2021 after it deleted a tweet by Buhari that the corporation said violated its policies on abusive behavior. Abuja said the ban was for “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence.”
“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,” Buhari, who served as a general during the 1967-1970 conflict, wrote in the infracting tweet on June 2 in response to attacks on electoral offices and police stations in the country's southeast, where the war had also been fought.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand," he added.
Twitter also temporarily suspended Buhari's account, making him the third head of state to lose posting rights on the app in less than six months. The first was then-US President Donald Trump, who was removed from the app in the wake of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol by his supporters, who he was perceived as encouraging. The second, just days after Trump, was Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose account was suspended until he deleted a tweet questioning the efficacy of Western-made COVID-19 vaccines.
In the aftermath of Nigeria's ban, Trump praised the country's decision, but the US, European Union and international civil freedoms advocacy groups condemned it.