President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said he had given approval for lifting the suspension of microblogging site Twitter once the conditions set by the Federal Government are met.
The President in his Independence Day anniversary broadcast said:
“Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements.”
Nigeria took action against Twitter in June on the grounds that it was being used for activities capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria, a move that sparked outrage and controversy. Many attributed the action to the decision of Twitter to delete a tweet by the President, but the Federal Government insisted that the move had nothing to do with that and was in the interest of the nation.
The President explained the decision, insisting that although social media had many benefits, there were dangers that the government had to address.
“Social media is a very useful platform that has enabled millions of Nigerians to connect with loved ones, promote their businesses, socialise, and access news and other information,” he said.
“However, recent events have shown that the platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination.
“Rather some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.
“To address these negative trends, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021, to allow the Government put measures in place to address these challenges.”
After the suspension, a Technical Team set up by the Nigerian government commenced talks with Twitter and, in August, the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said that progress had been made in the talks and the suspension will soon be lifted, but that has yet to happen.
President Buhari explained on Friday that the engagement between Nigeria and Twitter was to address “key issues” related to national security and cohesion, registration, physical presence and representation (of Twitter in the country), fair taxation, dispute resolution, and local content.
“As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety,” he said of his directive that the suspension should be lifted but only if conditions are met.