After months of negotiation, the federal government, on Wednesday, announced that it has lifted the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
On Thursday at midnight, telecommunications companies restored Twitter services in Nigeria as many Nigerians living in the country are now able to access the microblogging platform without the use of virtual private network (VPN).
After the suspension of Twitter, many Nigerians downloaded VPNs to bypass the restriction and access the platform.
Here, TheCable highlights issues before and after the suspension:
BUHARI MADE REFERENCE TO CIVIL WAR IN HIS TWEET
On June 1, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari posted a tweet wherein he threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.
In the tweet, Buhari made reference to his experience during the civil war and threatened to deal with those “bent on destroying” Nigeria through “insurrection”.
The president posted the message to warn those “misbehaving in certain parts of the country”, particularly in the south-east where attacks on government infrastructure worsened.
Buhari’s tweet did not go down well with many Nigerians on Twitter, especially the reference of the civil war — in which millions of Nigerians mostly the Igbo were killed — and they reported the tweet to Twitter.
TWITTER DELETED BUHARI’S TWEET
On June 2, 2021, Twitter deleted the president’s tweet, saying the tweet violated its rules.
The platform did not provide further details on why the president’s tweet was deleted but its policy states that such a measure is sometimes taken because “the behaviour violates the Twitter rules”.
FG ACCUSED TWITTER OF DOUBLE STANDARDS
After Twitter’s action, on June 2, 2021, Lai Mohammed, minister of Information, accused Twitter of double standards, saying Buhari has the right to express his anger.
Mohammed accused the platform of turning a blind eye to the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, which the Nigerian authorities declared a terrorist organisation.
FG SUSPENDED TWITTER INDEFINITELY
On June 4, 2021, the federal government announced the suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform in Nigeria.
The federal government cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” for its decision.
PDP, NBA FAULTED TWITTER SUSPENSION
The decision of the federal government to suspend the platform was greeted with harsh criticisms from many Nigerians and organisations.
Reacting to the development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on June 4 2021, described the decision to suspend Twitter as “barbaric and vexatious”.
Also, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said it will institute a lawsuit against the federal government, saying the federal government lacked constitutional authority to back its decision.
TELCOS BLOCKED ACCESS TO TWITTER
On June 5, 2021, telecommunications companies in Nigeria blocked access to Twitter in compliance with the order of the federal government.
VPN TO THE RESCUE
In a bid to bypass Twitter’s suspension in Nigeria, many Nigerians resorted to the use of VPN to access the microblogging platform.
AISHA BUHARI DEACTIVATED HER TWITTER ACCOUNT
On June 5, 2021, Aisha, wife of Buhari, deactivated her account on Twitter.
At 11:59pm on June 4, 2021, the president’s wife tweeted her decision to deactivate the account.
MALAMI ORDERS PROSECUTION OF TWITTER BAN VIOLATORS
On June 5, 2021, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, ordered the prosecution of those violating the ban on Twitter in Nigeria.
US, UK, CANADA, EU TACKLED FG OVER TWITTER SUSPENSION
On June 5, 2021, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and European Union expressed disappointment over the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
PDP REPS THREATEN LAWSUIT AGAINST FG OVER TWITTER SUSPENSION
On June 6, 2021, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the house of representatives, threatened to sue the federal government if the suspension Twitter in the country is not reversed.
NBC DIRECTED BROADCASTING STATIONS TO STOP USING TWITTER
On June 7, 2021, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) directed broadcasting stations in the country to stop using Twitter.
FG GIVES CONDITION TO LIFT BAN ON TWITTER
On June 7, 2021, the federal government gave conditions to lift its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, at a meeting with some envoys, said the condition would be responsible use of social media.
‘FG COULD HAVE HANDLED TWITTER BAN A LOT BETTER’
On June 7, 2021, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, said the federal government could have handled the disagreement with Twitter better.
Sanwo-Olu said the federal government could have handled the situation better considering the economic implications of the decision.
SERAP, 176 CONCERNED NIGERIANS DRAGGED FG TO ECOWAS COURT
On June 8, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians filed a lawsuit against the federal government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice over Twitter’s suspension.
SERAP said the “suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity by the agents of the federal government”.
CSOs DARED FG, SAID NO LAW AGAINST TWEETING IN NIGERIA
On June 8, 2021, a coalition of 25 civil society organisations (CSOs) said it will not stop using Twitter.
The CSOs said they are not aware of any law that prohibits the use of Twitter, while describing the suspension as an assault on the civic space and a clampdown on free speech.
‘TWITTER MUST BE REGISTERED IN NIGERIA BEFORE BAN IS REVERSED’
On June 9, 2021, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said the management of Twitter had reached out for a “high-level discussion” to resolve the issues that led to the suspension of its operations in Nigeria.
The minister said Twitter must be registered as a business entity in Nigeria, noting that it is one of the conditions that must be met before the suspension can be reversed.
‘IT’S UNFAIR TO SAY TWITTER BAN WAS BECAUSE BUHARI’S TWEET WAS DELETED’
On June 11, 2021, Lai Mohammed said it is “unfair” for people to say the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is because the president’s tweet was deleted.
The minister said the ban was in order because Twitter allowed the promotion of views that could cause division in the country.
‘NIGERIA NEEDS TWITTER’
On June 11, 2021, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said Nigeria needs Twitter just as much as Twitter needs Nigeria.
Lawan said the senate is optimistic that the differences between the federal government and the platform will be resolved.
‘BUHARI’S EGO NOT ENOUGH TO BAN TWITTER’
On June 14, 2021, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum tackled Buhari over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
The PDP governors said the president’s “mere ego” is not enough reason to suspend Twitter, adding that millions of Nigerians would be deprived of affordable means of communication.
ECOWAS COURT STOPPED FG FROM PROSECUTING NIGERIANS FOR USING TWITTER
On June 22, 2021, the ECOWAS court issued an order restraining Buhari or any member of his administration from prosecuting any Nigerian for using Twitter.
The ruling followed the suit filed against the government by SERAP and 176 concerned Nigerians over Twitter’s suspension.
BUHARI APPOINTED TEAM TO ENGAGE TWITTER OVER SUSPENSION
On June 22, 2022, Buhari approved the composition of a federal government team to engage Twitter over its suspension.
The team, which was chaired by Mohammed, included Malami, Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy; Geoffery Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs; Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and employment.
FG IN TALKS WITH TWITTER
On August 5, 2021, Segun Adeyemi, special assistant to the president on media in the office of the information minister, said discussions with Twitter and the federal government were in progress.
FG SAID TWITTER BAN WILL BE LIFTED SOON
On August 11, 2021, the federal government announced that the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria would soon be lifted.
The information minister said the federal government has resolved some of the issues it raised with the social media platform, adding that the company has agreed to set up an office in Nigeria.
‘TWITTER BAN WILL BE LIFTED IN A FEW DAYS’
Again, on September 15, 2021, the federal government announced that it is “very close” to resolving the issues that led to the ban of Twitter in the country.
Mohammed said the ban on Twitter would be lifted “very soon”.
BUHARI: I HAVE ASKED THAT TWITTER SUSPENSION BE LIFTED
On October 1, 2021, Buhari, in his Independence Day speech, said he has directed that Twitter suspension be lifted, only if the conditions are met to allow the citizens to use the platform for positive engagements.
The president said his administration is committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of Nigerian citizens
‘TWITTER HAS AGREED TO ALL OUR CONDITIONS’
On November 28, 2021, the federal government said Twitter has agreed to all its conditions for suspension to be lifted.
Keyamo disclosed that Twitter reached out to the federal government on what should be done for the suspension to be lifted.
FG LIFTED SUSPENSION ON TWITTER OPERATIONS
On January 12, 2021, Buhari approved the lifting of the suspension on Twitter operations in Nigeria.
On January 13, telecommunications companies restored Twitter services in Nigeria as many Nigerians are now able to access Twitter without VPNs.