Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban After Seven Months

Posted: Jan 13, 2022 1:25 PM
Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban After Seven Months

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

On Thursday, the Nigerian government restored the country’s access to Twitter after banning it seven months ago.

In June 2021, the Nigerian government blocked access to Twitter after the platform deleted a post shared by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. According to The New York Times, the government “reversed course” on the ban after Twitter “agreed to several demands.” Twitter will reportedly establish an office in Nigeria, pay taxes in the country, appoint a representative, and “act with a respectful acknowledgment of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history.”

Since the ban came into effect, Nigerians have been able to access the service only using a virtual private network. Twitter’s removal of a post by President Muhammadu Buhari was widely seen as having prompted the government to block the site, but the government official, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said on Wednesday that it was because it had been used “for subversive purposes and criminal activities.”

In the now-deleted tweet, which was aimed at “those misbehaving,” Mr. Buhari said that the government would “treat them in the language they understand,” a message that was widely read as being a reference to the deadly Nigerian civil war. Some interpreted it as a threat of genocide.

In recent years Nigerian lawmakers have introduced several bills that, if passed, would regulate social media, arguing for them on the grounds of security or national unity. Rights groups say these measures — none of which have been approved — could violate international laws protecting freedom of speech.

In June, as I covered, Twitter reacted to its ban in Nigeria via the platform's Public Policy account. In a tweet, the platform claimed to be “deeply concerned” about the ban and said that “access to free and #openinternet is an essential human right in modern society.” 

Twitter’s statement in June came months after former President Trump was permanently banned from the platform following the events of Jan. 6 in the U.S. Capitol. Trump's access to the platform has not been restored since Jan. 8.

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