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Twitter Blocked After FG’s Order To Telecos

Ronke Idowu with Agency Reports  
Updated June 5, 2021
File photo of Twitter logo

 

Telecoms operators in Nigeria have blocked Twitter in Nigeria, a day after the Federal government announced its indefinite suspension.

Twitter users in the country woke up on Saturday unable to access the microblogging websites while some navigated the hurdle using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), an industry group, confirmed it had received directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.

The President of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, made this known in a statement on Saturday.

Mr Adebayo noted that the association wished to confirm that its members had received formal instructions from NCC, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.

READ ALSO: Twitter Ban: There Is No Constitutional Authority To Support FG’s Peremptory Action – NBA

“ALTON has also conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.

“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of NCC, the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC, ” Mr Adebayo said.

He said the association remains committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

He, however, said as an industry, ALTON endorsed the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online.

He noted that this included respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.

 

Civil War Tweet

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.

He cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.

The government had announced the suspension barely 48 hours after the microblogging site deleted a post by Mr Buhari referencing the country’s civil war, and threatening to treat those attacking government buildings “with the language they understand.”

His comments received condemnation from Nigerians.

 

 

-‘Repressive action’ –

Amnesty International on Friday condemned the move, calling on Nigeria to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension”.

“This repressive action is a clear attempt to censor dissent & stifle the civic space,” Human Rights Watch researcher Anietie Ewang said.

Twitter said that the move was “deeply concerning”.

“We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.

The UK’s deputy high commissioner in Nigeria Gill Atkinson in reaction to the suspension said “any action taken by government must be measured, proportionate and not suppress basic freedoms.”

Nigeria in 2019 had announced it would tighten regulations on social media to fight fake news and disinformation, sparking concerns over freedom of expression.

Several countries including China and Turkey have come under fire for putting restrictions on social media platforms such as Twitter.

In February Twitter condemned Myanmar for blocking access to its platform as part of a crackdown on social media, days after a coup that saw Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders jailed.