Why FG Suspended Twitter – Presidency

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Shoot At Sight Order Still in Force - Buhari
Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

The Presidency has explained that the decision to ban Twitter access in Nigeria temporarily was not just informed by the recent deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet by the microblogging platform.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed announced the suspension of Twitter on Friday in a statement issued by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi.

Telecommunication companies in Nigeria on Saturday confirm receipt of an order restricting subscriber’s access to Twitter.

Justifying the decision, a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Saturday said the decision was not based on just the removal of Buhari’s tweet.

Shehu said the decision was a culmination of a myriad of problems with Twitter where he alleged misinformation and fake news spread through it have resulted in violent consequences.

The statement read, “The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post. There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real-world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.

“Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.

“The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said, “the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.”

“This and similar crimes which social media networks have fueled risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture. Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to the loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.

“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet, which should have been read in full. The tweet was not a threat but a statement of fact.

“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens. When the President said that they would be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force should be met with force. It is a fundamental principle of security services response the world over.

“This is not the promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill police officers and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”

This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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