Twitter and Nigeria: Authorities working to lift the ban they placed on the app

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In June 2021, the government of Nigeria banned twitter in the country after the American microblogging and social networking service deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating its rules on abusive language.

In spite of the global uproar that ensued, including strong words of condemnation from top foreign diplomats in the country, the government remained adamant.

Much of the comment that followed at the time focused on the ban’s negative impact on freedom of speech and the economy.

Many Nigerians use the platform to amplify their grievances against the government and to reach more customers for their businesses.

But Twitter’s decision to delete President Buhari’s post – in which he threatened violence against a separatist movement – was ill-advised. This has also become a point of debate in other parts of the world, including India.

The US-owned, private firm appeared to be interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign African state without enough background knowledge to understand the consequences of its actions.

At the time, Twitter said the post was in violation of its rules and the company has the right to enforce its regulations.

Nigeria’s government however said that, the ban on Twitter was not because of the removal of the president’s tweet but to safeguard national security and unity.
Activists have criticised the ban which they say is a way of trampling upon freedom of speech.

It then announced on Wednesday that it was finalising an agreement with Twitter and the ban would be lifted in a few days or weeks.

Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed has given a strong indication that the government’s ban on Twitter will be lifted soon.

The minister told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that talks with the social media company had reached an advanced stage and that “an amicable solution is very much in sight”.

He highlighted some of the government’s conditions for ending the ban. These include Twitter registering its business in Nigeria, having a staff presence in the country and agreeing to pay tax.
But Mr Mohammed said “tremendous progress” had been made between Twitter and the Nigerian government towards ending the dispute.

Despite the fact that the ban had been imposed two months ago, many Nigerians have continued to tweet using virtual private networks (VPN).

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