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Lai on Twitter ban: Nigerians still have Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp… there’s freedom of speech

Author:
Taiwo Adebulu

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says the ban on Twitter in Nigeria does not stifle the citizens’ freedom of expression.

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Twitter was suspended two days after it deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s handle for violating its policy.

Speaking on the development on Wednesday, the minister said Nigerians still have the options of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Referring to a fact-check by TheCable, he maintained that Twitter played a prominent role in the destruction that took place after the #EndSARS protest was hijacked, and as such, must be sanctioned.

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“I want to repeat that it is because Twitter has consistently made its platform available to those who are threatening Nigeria’s corporate existence, that is the reason for suspending their operations in Nigeria,” Mohammed said.

“For those that have heard that the ban is not effective, to the best of my knowledge, I think the ban is very effective. Many commentators have said suspending the operations of Twitter is like stifling freedom of expression. And I said ‘no. Twitter is just one of the many platforms through which Nigerians can express themselves. There is Facebook; there is Instagram; there’s WhatsApp; there’s Google Hangout, and others. They have not been suspended.

“When I addressed you on Wednesday, I said, among other things that Twitter’s mission in Nigeria is suspect. And I went further to say yes, that Twitter funded the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria last year. And people have challenged it. And I’m glad that TheCable has done some fact finding and their conclusions are as follows: they said the truth is that, fact checking showed that indeed, Twitter played a prominent role in helping to raise funds for the #EndSARS protesters.

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“Whether they paid directly, helped to pay, or helped to raise funds, it’s a matter of semantics. So, whether he donated money himself or helped to raise money, the Twitter owner is one of those who helped to fund the #EndSARS protests that was later hijacked, leading to loss of lives and massive destruction of property.

“Like I said last Wednesday, you can see from the fact check the role of Jack Dorsey is suspect. His interest in Nigeria is inimical to our growth. Our decision to suspend Twitter has been lauded by some, it has been decried by some. But we want to make it clear that what is important to us is the sovereignty of Nigeria.”

The minister maintained that Twitter must register its presence in the country and must be regulated by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

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