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REWIND: Twitter chose Ghana as Africa HQ because of free speech, online freedom

Author:
Idris Shehu

It arrived with little shock. Nobody — no organisation — swats the federal government without getting clawed. So when Twitter deleted the message of President Muhammadu Buhari, who had threatened to deal with certain individuals in “the language they understand”, Nigerians knew a major reaction was coming.

Always, rebuttals come first. Lai Mohammed, minister of information, accused Twitter of “double standard”.  He described the platform as “suspect” and said it has an unknown “mission” in Nigeria.

“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very very suspect,” the minister had said.

“Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? The same Twitter, during the #ENDSARS protests, that was funding #ENDSARS protesters. 

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“You see, we are not going to be fooled by anybody. We have a country to rule and we will do so to the best of our ability. Twitter’s mission in Nigeria citing those two examples is very suspect. What is their agenda?”

To kill a dog, one must first give it a bad name. With the naming part done, down came the scythe. 

A few days after the aforementioned development, the federal government suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

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“The persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” read the statement. 

It all arrived with little shock. Even Twitter, itself, won’t be shocked. It may have anticipated such a move months ago. 

Ghana over Nigeria 

In April, the microblogging platform shunned Nigeria and established its African headquarters in Ghana instead, despite Nigerians’ enormous activity on the platform.

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Twitter said the decision was because Ghana is “the champion of democracy” and “a supporter of free speech, online freedom and the open internet”.

In a blog post, the social media giant praised the free operating room enabled by the Ghanaian authority. 

“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate,” the statement had read.

“Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.”

Almost two months after Nigeria was snubbed by Twitter, the case has judged itself.

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