OUTRAGE AS BUHARI SUSPENDS TWITTER IN NIGERIA
On Friday 4th June 2021, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed announced the suspension of Twitter. According to him, there has been persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
This came after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet was deleted on Wednesday, June 2. In the tweet, the President cited Nigeria’s civil war experience between 1967 and 1970 and threatened to treat Nigerians ‘misbehaving’ in the ‘language they understand’.
This caused an uproar as many Nigerians criticized the President for making reference to the civil war in which millions of Nigerians, mostly Igbos were killed. Some claimed that the President’s tweet violated Twitter’s usage policy- expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide and demanded the President’s account be suspended.
Twitter deleted the tweet on Wednesday saying that the post violated its rules, Facebook also deleted this post.
Subsequent to the Twitter suspension many notable Nigerians including Prof. Wole Soyinka voiced their opinions. The major opposition party PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that it was appalled that the Federal Government could exhibit ‘primitive intolerance and power intoxication because the social media giant demonstrated international best practices in not allowing the Buhari presidency to use Twitter as a platform to propagate and spread the Buhari administrations hatred towards Nigerians’.
On Saturday, 5th June 2021, telecommunications operators effected the suspension hence, many Nigerians could no longer access the Twitter app.
Young Nigerians have since resorted to using virtual private networks (VPNs) to access Twitter. A few hours after the news of the ban, VPN trended on Twitter.
Also, figures from Google Trends on Saturday morning showed more than 100% spike in searches related to VPNs. However, the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami has ordered the immediate prosecution of Nigerians accessing Twitter through a VPN.
Many suspect that the relationship between the Nigerian government and Twitter began to strain during the #ENDSARS protest, deleting the President’s tweet was just the last straw. However, many Nigerians have expressed annoyance about these developments.
According to them, the government does not know its priorities. The state of insecurity in the country is alarming and the government has not said anything about the hike in the price of foodstuffs, but they are more concerned about Twitter.