Seven months after Nigeria suspended the operations of the American-based mircroblogging site, Twitter, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the lifting of the suspension.
The Chairman of the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement and Director-General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Abdullahi, broke the news on Wednesday.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022.
The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim,” the statement added.
The Minister had in the memo updated and requested the President approve the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.
The suspension of Twitter took effect on June 4, 2021 when the social media platform deleted a tweet in which President Buhari threatened to deal with violent secession group in South East Nigeria in the language they understand.
The government of Nigeria also accused Twitter of encouraging insurrection and providing the platform for fake news and hate speech.
“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability,” presidential aide, Mr Garba Shehu, said in the wake of the suspension.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic, and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to the loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.”
The government subsequently gave conditions for the lifting of the suspension, including Twitter registering operations in Nigeria, payment of tax, as well as setting up an office in Nigeria to monitor content.
After months of negotiation, Twitter has agreed to the demands in order to re-open its services to almost 40 million subscribers.
According to the minister, 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).
Twitter also agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities.
“Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law. Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals.
It agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the government and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.
The minister of communication said: “Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria.’’
The federal government, he said is looking forward to providing a conducive environment for Twitter and other global tech companies to achieve their potential and be sustainably profitable in Nigeria.