“The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria,” an edict from Lai Mohammed, the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, announced in a statement this past Friday, June 4.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration are accusing the American social media company of allowing its platform to be used “for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
The move denotes a bit of retaliation after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Buhari that was widely perceived as offensive. In that tweet released on Tuesday, June 2, the Nigerian leader threatened to deal with people in the country’s southeast region, writing in a now-deleted tweet, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
He was referring to the brutal two-year Nigeria-Biafra war, which killed an estimated one to three million people, mostly from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of the country between 1967-1970.
On Saturday, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, followed the ban with an order that allowed the country’s federal prosecutors to arrest and prosecute users of the social app. In a statement relating to the directive, signed on his behalf by his spokesman, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, it read: “Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.” The statement also continued that offenders would be prosecuted without delay.
Twitter is investigating its “deeply concerning” suspension of operations by the Nigerian government, and “will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.