Nigeria Goes on Twitter to Announce It Is Banning Twitter

Nigeria has announced on Twitter that it is suspending the operations of Twitter in the country. The African nation's decision to use the social media platform to share the news may raise eyebrows.

Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Information and Culture made the announcement on Friday. The move follows Twitter's deletion of a tweet from the country's president, Muhammadu Buhari, earlier in the week.

Buhari's tweet on Tuesday dealt with Nigerians in the southeast of the country whom the government blames for attacks on infrastructure and appeared to invoke the bloody Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970.

"The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria," the Ministry of Information wrote.

"The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence."

"The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting l Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria."

PRESS RELEASE

FG Suspends @Twitter Operations in Nigeria pic.twitter.com/7z5BQ0Mi3U

— Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021

In the post Twitter deleted, Buhari had written: "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."

Buhari is a retired army major general who was head of the state from 1983 to 1985 after taking power in a coup. He was elected president of Nigeria in 2014 and sworn in in 2015.

In May 1967 a territory of the eastern region of Nigeria attempted to secede from the country, calling itself the Republic of Biafra. In the war that resulted from its secession, an estimated one to three million people were killed, with the Igbo community severely affected.

Following calls from some Nigerian users to delete the tweet, Twitter removed the post and temporarily suspended Buhari's account, leaving it in read-only mode for 12 hours, according to Tech Crunch. However, Buhari has not been banned from the platform.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the information and culture minister, criticized Twitter, saying: "Twitter may have its own rules; it's not the universal rule. If Mr President anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views."

"The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very, very suspect," he said at a Wednesday news conference.

Twitter directed Newsweek to a statement the platform issued on Saturday saying the company was "deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria."

"Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society. We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world," the social media company said.

Newsweek has asked the Nigerian Ministry of Information and Culture for comment.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Speaks in 2019
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) addresses the audience following his re-election, after Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission presented his certificate of election on February 27, 2019, in Abuja. Nigeria has suspended Twitter in the country after the site deleted one of Buhari's tweets. KOLA SULAIMON/AFP/Getty Images