Less than 24 hours after the Muhammadu Buhari government announced an indefinite ban on Twitter, some Nigerians are already experiencing glitches in the use of the social media platform.
FIJ had reported how Twitter deleted a tweet by Buhari threatening harm against a region of the country. The social media platform also removed video of the President where he made same threat. Twitter said the tweets were against its rules.
In a retaliatory move, the government, through Lai Mohammed, the Minister for Information and Culture, suspended Twitter, saying its activities “are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. It directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to commence the process of licensing all social media operations in Nigeria.
And in a statement on Saturday, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said it had received instructions from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to suspend access to Twitter.
“…Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian communications Act, 2003, and within the license terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) the industry regulator,” ALTON stated.
“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online.”
Persons in Nigeria using the internet service provided by telecommunications networks including MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9mobile and other internet service providers have been unable to access Twitter for the past 13 hours.
But some Nigerians are bypassing the ban on Twitter through the use of virtual private network (VPN).
Gbenga Sesan, the Executive director of Paradigm Initiative, had said on Friday that the suspension was a waste of government’s time and resources as Nigerians circumvent the ban by using VPNs.
“…As we speak right now, the Information Minister has either communicated already or has started a chain of communication with two groups of people: one telecoms service providers and second, the internet service providers. What they will tell them to do is to block access to Twitter,” Sesan said.
Buhari’s action not only stifles freedom of expression, it affects small and medium scale businesses and vendors who depend on Twitter and the social media to push sales.
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