The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken to Twitter to announce its decision to suspend the operations of an American microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in the country. In a ridiculous move, the government tweeted this announcement through its Ministry of Information and Culture’s official verified Twitter handle citing the ‘persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.’
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made the vague statement through a thread of tweets that did not state when or how the enforcement would begin and was also signed by Segun Adeyemi, the President’s media aide. The Minister further directed the country’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
Lai Mohammed’s announcement today is a retaliatory act that was triggered by Twitter’s decision to temporarily suspend the account of President Muhammadu Buhari for what it termed as a violation of the social media company’s “abusive” behavior policy. Buhari’s account was put on hold for 12 hours after he threatened punishment for regional secessionists called IPOB in the South-Eastern part of the country blamed for attacks on government buildings. Twitter deleted the tweets and videos of Mr. Buhari before leaving his account in a “read-only mode.”
Reacting to this statement in an email to TechCrunch, Twitter said, “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.”
Two months ago, Twitter announced that it was actively building a team in Ghana to serve as headquarters to the Africa continent. CEO, Jack Dorsey said that Twitter was establishing its presence in line with its growth strategy “to be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the continent.”
When everyone else thought Twitter would choose Nigeria as its headquarters, Twitter went for Ghana noting that its decision was informed by Ghana’s champion for democracy, her support for free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.