Nigeria indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in the country last week, after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari which threatened to punish regional secessionists for attacks on government buildings.
The announcement by the Ministry of Information on Twitter itself, sparked outrage among social media users in Nigeria, where Twitter is hugely popular.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information said the government had acted because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
In response, Twitter said, “The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more.”
The social media giant suspended President Buhari’s account for 12 hours citing threats to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings which violated Twitter’s “abusive behaviour” policy.
The Tweet said, “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,” wrote Buhari, in reference to the 1967-70 conflict. “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Commenting on the issue, Jim Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of SocialFlow said, “There is a very pragmatic challenge, which is how does once enforce a ban.”
“I suspect what Nigeria is trying to do is block the IP addresses associated with Twitter, an infrastructure-level block. That’s a hard thing to do,” he said, citing the example of China.
“China has blocked Twitter but you can see tens of millions of people accessing Twitter through other means. The great firewall is not always a very effective firewall, certainly not for China and I suspect not for Nigeria either.”