Nigeria lifts Twitter suspension after seven months

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The Nigerian government has lifted the suspension of Twitter operations in the country, an official said.

The government announced the suspension of the social media platform in June 2021, after deleting a controversial tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari. The government has also accused Twitter of working against Nigerian interests.

The director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, announced the lifting of the suspension in a statement.

Mr. Abdullahi has also been involved in the Nigerian government’s negotiations with Twitter.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria as of midnight tonight, January 13, 2022.

“The approval was given following a note written to the President by the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim.

“In the memo, the minister updated and requested the president’s approval for the lifting based on the recommendation of the Nigeria-Twitter Engagement technical committee,” the official said.

Since the suspension, millions of Twitter users have been unable to use the social media platform in Nigeria unless using a virtual private network.

The federal government, on June 4, 2021, announcement the suspension of the platform in Nigeria through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

Minister of Communication, Dr Isa Ali Pantami [PHOTO CREDIT: Dr Isa Ali Pantami on Facebook]

2. You may recall that on June 5, 2021, the FGN suspended the operation of Twitter through an announcement made by the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed. Subsequently, the president formed a seven-man presidential committee to engage Twitter Inc. Subsequently, in its wisdom, the presidential committee established a 20-member technical committee comprising all relevant government agencies. The technical committee engaged and worked directly with the Twitter team.

3. The immediate and distant cause of the suspension was the relentless use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive ends and criminal activities, spreading false news and polarizing Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, between others. These problems bordering on national security, cohesion and the effects of the abuse of the Twitter platform forced the FGN to suspend the operation of Twitter to resolve the direct and collateral problems surrounding its operations in Nigeria.

4. The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators exert a huge influence on the fabric of our society, social interactions and economic choices. These platforms can be used as a tool or a weapon. Each nation is grappling with how to effectively balance its use. Without balance, the safety, privacy, social well-being and development of every citizen are at stake. Therefore, our action is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter in order to achieve maximum mutual benefit. for our nation without compromising the legitimate interests of the Society. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial and fruitful.

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5. The process of resolving this stalemate between the FGN and Twitter Inc. has helped lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial future with endless possibilities. Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians, ranging from young innovators to public sector officials who find it useful to engage their audiences. Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a wider area in Nigeria. In addition, the FGN looks forward to providing an enabling environment for Twitter and other global technology companies to realize their potential and be sustainable profitable in Nigeria.

6. While appreciating all Nigerians, especially the vibrant young Nigerians who have endured the long wait to resolve this impasse, the FGN is happy to say that the gains from this shared national sacrifice are immeasurable. Some of the gains include:

a) Ongoing economic and training opportunities as the Company continues to consider expanding its presence in Nigeria;

b) Better understand how to effectively use the Twitter platform to improve businesses;

c) Income generation through the operation of Twitter in Nigeria;

Twitter

d) Harmonious and coordinated relations between the Nigerian government and Twitter leading to mutual trust;

e) Reduction of cybercrime activities such as terrorism, cyberbullying, hate speech, etc. ; and

f) Work with Twitter and other global companies to develop an acceptable code of conduct following global best practices.

7. The FGN asked Twitter to meet certain conditions before restoring its services. These conditions related to the legal registration of transactions, taxation and the management of publications prohibited under Nigerian laws. Twitter is committed to meeting all the conditions set by the FGN. Therefore, the FGN and Twitter decided on an implementation schedule, which started this week. Our engagement with Twitter opens a new chapter in global digital diplomacy and sets a new operating model for Twitter to come back stronger for the benefit of Nigerians.

Here are the resolutions agreed to with Twitter. Inc .:

I. Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The creation of the entity is the first step for Twitter to demonstrate its long-term commitment to Nigeria.

ii. Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated representative to interface with the Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.

iii. Twitter has agreed to comply with tax obligations applicable to its operations under Nigerian law.

iv. Twitter has agreed to list Nigeria in its partner support and law enforcement portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community guidelines. At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification when they suspect that the content violates Nigerian laws. Taken together, they represent a complete compliance apparatus.

v. Twitter has agreed to act with respectful recognition of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history upon which such legislation has been built and to work with the FGN and the industry at large to develop a code of conduct. in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.

8. Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria from January 13, 2022 at midnight. We encourage all users of the Twitter platform to maintain ethical behavior and to refrain from promoting conflicting, dangerous and unpleasant information on the platform. As patriotic citizens, we must be aware that anything illegal offline is also illegal online and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is synonymous with committing a crime in our jurisdiction. .

9. Given Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the very fabric of our corporate existence as a nation, our priority is to adapt, not ban, Twitter. The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do everything possible to help Nigerians align and navigate the algorithmic design of Twitter to realize its potential while avoiding its dangers.

10. In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee headed by the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed, for the oversight role and advice given to the Technical Committee during the engagement. Likewise, the Presidential Committee commends the Technical Committee for a professional, solid and productive engagement with Twitter Inc. It also appreciates the government regulatory agencies and Internet service providers who implemented the FGN guidelines during the suspension.

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE
Chairman of the Nigeria-Twitter Engagement Technical Committee and
General manager
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

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