From Vincent Kalu, Lagos, Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja and Chineye Anuforo, Lagos
Several Nigerians reacted with anger and indignation yesterday as the Federal Government suspended indefinitely the operations of Twitter in the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed the suspension in a statement signed by a Special Assistant to the President (Media) in the Office of the Minister, Segun Adeyemi.
The suspension of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria came few days after the micro-blogging and social networking service deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet on the civil war.
Mohammed, however, stated that the persistent use of Twitter for activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence was responsible for the suspension.
The Minister further said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
Acting Leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the ban on Twitter has confirmed the position of Nigerians who say that this President Buhari’s government is a military dictatorship. The president is not ready to tolerate contrary views, he stated.
In a terse twee, former Vice President Atyiku Abubakar said: “Hopefully, this isn’t my last tweet. #smile”
Senator Dino Melaye stated: Buhari should learn from Trump. “Ordinary Delete na im vex you like this. Na im be say if dem suspend you you go collect our phones. Yeye dey smell. Naija Govt sha. Using Twitter platform to announce Twitter suspension. Na im Baba Fela dey call babanla nonsense. he wrote in Pidgin.
Senator Ben Bruce in his [email protected] on his Twitter handle, benmurraybruce, said Nigerians deserve their right to free speech.
“The Twitter ban in Nigeria is hasty and unnecessary. I hope the government sees its error and quickly corrects this goof.”
Popular lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) also condemned the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, stating that: “This is a provocative infringement of Nigerians’ right to freedom of information in the country.
“This is a confirmation of the suspension of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution.
“The NBC has been authorised to impose harsh fines on local media houses that embarass the Federal Government as a pretext for possible ban.
“The suspension of Twitter may soon be extended to the BBC, VOA and other international media platforms accused of publishing seditious or defamatory information against the government and its officials.”
The president of African Bar Association, Hannibal Uwaifo, described the ban of Twitter in Nigeria by the Federal Government as irresponsible.
According to him, it is uncalled for and absolutely responsible. It is highhandedness to deprive other citizens of the use of twitter. Twitter didn’t ban President Buhari from using it , it deleted his post that they considered offensive and they didn’t delete the post of other Nigerian.
“ o, why should they ban Nigerians from using Twitter simply because twitter deleted the post of the president? The president of Nigeria is not the owner of this country; he is just first among the citizens of this country, who gave him the opportunity to rule them.
“Therefore, he should not equate himself as if he were an emperor; that when an emperor is offended, the whole country is offended. He was the one that made the statement they considered irresponsible; he didn’t consult with Nigerians before he made the statement.
The government should reverse the ban immediately. This is undemocratic, and should not be allowed to stand. Twitter suspended the account of a siting president of United State of America, Donald trump and , Twitter was not banned. What is this issue?
Former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof Usman Yusuf, said over 99 per cent of Nigerians do not care and they don’t know Twitter. He urged government to concentrate on what concerns people, not Twitter. “Insecurity, the price of Gerri, price of rice, the price of fuel are all that concern Nigerians, not Twitter.”
National President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said Twitter was right to have deleted Buhari’s tweets:
“I see his choice of words as offensive to the younger generation and obviously it is a threat because his words were too open ended. I think he should calm down and look at what Twitter is saying; that you can’t use their medium to be threatening a whole generation of a country. These people he is threatening are supposed to be the ones in charge.”
Chief Executive Officer of Jidaw Systems Limited, Jide Awe, also absolved Twitter of any blame for deleting Buhari’s tweets.
“The truth is that all social media big tech platforms are private platforms. My assumption is that such actions are taken when a user’s post is deemed to be against the social media platform’s community guidelines and terms. All users agree to those rules when they sign up. Having social media accounts is a choice.
“In view of their reach and influence, many world leaders use these platforms to communicate with their citizens and the world. The global response to posts and tweets is a sign of the power of social media platforms. However, they own their private platforms. On their own, these platforms determine when a user breaks the rules and the actions to take when there is a violation.
“Former US President, Donald Trump had his tweets deleted and received several warnings and “violation” reports on his tweets before he was eventually banned from Twitter. Yet he never banned Twitter operations in America.