Advertisement

Timeline: Nigeria’s Suspension Of Twitter Operations

Channels Television  
Updated January 13, 2022
The Nigerian government argued that Twitter haboured content that undermined the country’s sovereignty.

 

On Wednesday, the Federal Government announced it was lifting its suspension on Twitter.

The microblogging site’s operations had been suspended in Nigeria since June 5, 2021, after it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet.

In justifying its suspension, the government accused Twitter of enabling the spread of fake news and hate speech.

READ ALSO: FG Lifts Twitter Suspension After Seven Months

However, after engaging the platform for several months, the Federal Government said on Wednesday that Twitter had agreed to abide by Nigerian rules as it relates to curation of content on its platform.

Here’s a timeline of how the saga unfolded:

June 2: Twitter deletes President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet where he threatened to treat “misbehaving” Nigerians in “the language they understand”. The tweet had referenced the civil war.

June 2: The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, says Twitter’s mission in Nigeria is suspicious.

June 4: The Federal Government indefinitely suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

June 4: Main opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejects the Twitter suspension, says President Buhari is pushing Nigerians to the wall.

June 4: Civil society group SERAP asks the Federal Government to rescind the suspension or face legal action.

June 4: Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka says Twitter suspension is a petulant gesture unbecoming of a democratically elected President.

June 4: Amnesty International asks the Federal government to reverse the suspension and suspend its plan to gag the media.

June 4: The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) says there is no constitutional or legal authority that supports the suspension.

June 5: The suspension takes effect as telecom operators block users from accessing the site.

June 5: First lady Aisha Buhari deactivates her Twitter account.

June 5: Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde urges the Federal Government to reverse the suspension, says Twitter is a source of livelihood for many Nigerian youths.

June 5: Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mike Ozekhome says the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has a thin skin for criticism and cannot take punches.

June 5: Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, directs the immediate prosecution of violators of the suspention of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

June 5: Twitter says it is working to restore access to those affected by the suspension.

June 5: The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives say the suspension is a clear violation of freedom of speech and other democratic rights and tenets as provided by the 1999 Constitution.

June 5: Prominent diplomatic missions to Nigeria, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, say they are let down by the decision to suspend Twitter in Nigeria.

June 5: The Presidency says its decision to “temporarily” suspend Twitter wasn’t a “knee-jerk reaction” to the deletion of President Buhari’s tweets.

June 5: The US says the suspension sends a poor message to investors, businesses.

June 6: SERAP asks the Commonwealth to sanction Nigeria over the suspension.

June 6: Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom says the move is an ill-advised diversion from the core issues of insecurity and injustice plaguing the nation.

June 6: The PDP caucus in the House of Representative threatens legal action against the Federal Government over the suspension.

June 7: The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) directs all broadcasting stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.

June 7: The Federal Government meets with some of the top envoys of various diplomatic missions in Nigeria over the suspension.

June 7: The Federal Government says it is in discussions with Twitter over the suspension and gives conditions that must be met before the suspension is lifted.

June 7: The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, defends the use of Twitter, says it is in line with Article 19 of the UN universal declaration of human rights.

June 7: Top foreign envoys insist the suspension is a violation of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

June 8: Members of the House of Representatives resolve to invite the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed in a bid to investigate the legality of the suspension.

June 8: SERAP drags the Federal Government to the ECOWAS court over the suspension.

June 9: The Joint Minority Caucus of the Senate and the House of Representatives says Nigerians should continue to use Twitter.

June 9: Human rights lawyer Femi Falana says the Federal Government should have sued Twitter, instead of placing a suspension.

June 9: The Federal Government says the management of Twitter has reached out for dialogue.

June 9: The PDP asks the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia and other members of the international community to impose a visa suspension on President Buhari and members of his cabinet over the suspension.

June 10: US tells the Federal Government to respect the rights of Nigerians to freely express themselves by reversing the suspension.

June 11: Nigeria’s media and activists fear the country is slipping into repression over the suspension.

June 11: Senate president Ahmed Lawan says Twitter and Nigeria need each other.

June 14: About 70 civil society organisations sign a statement calling on the Federal government to reverse the suspension and withdraw the threat to persecute anyone using the Twitter app in the country.

June 14: PDP Governors say the suspension will further worsen the country’s unemployment rate. 

June 20: SERAP sues the Federal Government and Lai Mohammed over its directive asking broadcasters to stop using Twitter.

June 21: Five non-governmental organisations and four journalists file a suit against the Federal Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja.

June 22: President Buhari approves the composition of the Federal Government’s team to engage with Twitter. The team is led by the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed.

June 22: The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja restrains the Federal Government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting, or prosecuting Twitter.

June 22: Lai Mohammed tells members of the House of Representatives that Twitter gave IPOB a platform to promote violence.

June 22: Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, says some Nigerians are taking undue advantage of the suspension to blackmail the Federal Government.

June 23: Femi Falana faults the Federal Government, says decision to meet with Twitter should have come earlier.

August 1: The Commonwealth says it is closely monitoring developments around the suspension. 

August 11: The Federal Government says it will lift the suspension Twitter in a matter of days,

August 11: Twitter confirms it is meeting with representatives of the Federal Government.

September 15: About 100 days after the suspension, the Federal Government says it is not unmindful of the anxiety over lifting the suspension, pledges to restore Twitter services.

October 1: President Buhari says he has approved for the suspension to be lifted once the conditions set by the Federal Government are met.

October 3: SERAP asks President Buhari to withdraw ‘impermissible conditions on Twitter’.

November 28: Festus Keyamo says Twitter has agreed to all the conditions laid out by the Federal Government.

January 12: The Federal Government says it has lifted the suspension, after seven months.