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Twitter is Suspended in Nigeria

Olawale Ameen Olawale Ameen
6th June 2021
Twitter is Suspended in Nigeria
Ministry issued a statement stating Twitter is suspended (Getty).

The Claim

FG Suspends Twitter's Operations In Nigeria.

Emerging story

Last week news went viral on Nigeria's Federal government suspending Twitter's operations in the country. This followed the regulatory action the social media platform had carried out on President Buhari's tweet of Wednesday wherein he threatened to deal with dissidents 'in the language they understand.' Nigerians had angrily reacted to the threat describing it as 'genocidal.'

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar's investigation finds the circulating true. The Federal government announced the suspension of Twitter and issued a directive to all telecommunication and ISPs operating in the country to suspend access to the platform immediately. Misbar's investigation reveals that this directive went live by midnight, Saturday 5th June.

Timeline to Twitter Shutdown
On Tuesday, June 1st, President Buhari received a briefing from the Nation Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, cautioning the current challenges due to the escalation in some South-Eastern states.

Nigerians frequently complained about Buhari suppressing their freedom of speech to speak up about carnage, abductions, and kidnappings perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herders. After Nigerians spoke up, President Buhari spoke harshly on the state of insecurity, promising to deal decisively with anyone responsible, declaring in a press release that 'they will be treated in a language they understand,' referring to self-determination agitators from the South East as dissidents who want his government to fail.

Nigerians reacted immediately, asking if Boko Haram, kidnappers, and bandits have been treated ‘in the language, they indeed understand’ as many perceived the threat to be directly addressed at the Igbos. Hashtags such as #Thisisnot1967 trended on Twitter for the better part of Wednesday, with many calling for the president’s tweet to be taken down by Twitter as it was deemed 'genocidal.' For them, it was a recall to the memories of the Biafra war of 1967 during which more than a million Nigerians were reported killed.

Twitter promptly deleted the offending tweet, but this irked the federal government. Shortly after, shortly after, during a press conference, Minister of Communication Lai Mohammed described Twitter's operations in Nigeria as suspicious.

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On Friday, the Ministry of Communication issued a statement stating Twitter is suspended. The statement released on TwitterThe following day, the telcos under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) confirmed that they had complied with the order and switched off access to Twitter.

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Olawale Ameen is Misbar's reporter based in Nigeria. 

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