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Telcos finally block access to Twitter in Nigeria

Author:
Haleem Olatunji

Telecommunications companies in Nigeria have blocked access to Twitter hours after the federal government suspended the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in the country.

On Friday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter.

The minister said the decision was made following “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Twitter’s suspension by the federal government came two days after a post by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 1967 civil war was deleted by the microblogging platform.

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Buhari had threatened to treat those “bent on destroying” Nigeria “through insurrection” in “a language they understand”.

The minister had defended Buhari while accusing Twitter of “double standards”.

He also said the mission of the social networking service in Nigeria is “suspect”.

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Reacting to the development, Twitter described the directive as “deeply concerning”.

“The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning,” it said.

“We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more.”

ALTON: WE HAVE INSTRUCTIONS TO BLOCK TWITTER ACCESS

In a statement on Saturday, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said it has received directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to implement the suspension.

The statement was signed by Gbenga Adebayo and Gbolahan Awonuga, the association’s chairman and executive secretary respectively.

The association said its members have complied with the directive, saying it is in line with “national interest provisions”.

“We, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter,” the statement said.

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“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive 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 the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) the industry regulator.

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

VPN TO THE RESCUE

On Saturday, Nigerians woke up to find the microblogging platform inaccessible — a proof that the implementation of the ban has commenced.

Many users of the platform had expressed concern over depleting sources of income as Twitter serves as a platform where many youths engage in business.

TheCable Lifestyle had examined how Nigerians can bypass the government’s suspension of Twitter using virtual private network (VPN).

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said it will institute a lawsuit against the federal government following the decision to suspend Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.

Olumide Akpata, NBA president, said the federal government lacks constitutional authority to back its decision.

Akpata also described the government’s action as a “disguised attempt to regulate social media, restrict freedom of speech and shrink civic space”.

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