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After govt’s ban, telcos block access to Twitter in Nigeria

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Telecommunications companies in Nigeria including MTN, Airtel, Glo, and 9Mobile have started blocking access to the social media platform Twitter.

According to the telcos, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gave them a directive to block access to Twitter in the country following its suspension by the Federal Government on Friday.

Twitter had on Wednesday, deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari where he referred to the civil war against the South-East region of the country, saying it violated its rules.

Buhari had in a tweet on Tuesday threatened to punish those “bent on destroying Nigeria through insurrection”, saying, “those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

Nigerians on Saturday woke up to encounter difficulty in accessing the Twitter platform, while some accessed the platform using virtual private networks.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Saturday, mobile network operators in the country under the auspices of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said it has started blocking access to Twitter.

The statement which was made available to pressmen, titled, ‘Order to Suspend access to Twitter’, was jointly signed by ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo; and ALTON Executive Secretary, Gbolahan Awonuga.

The statement read, “We, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.

“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive following 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, the industry regulator.

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“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC. We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes 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.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had accused Twitter of double standards after the micro-blogging platform deleted the president’s tweet and had after the suspension of Twitter, cited “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Meanwhile, Nigeria had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista.

According to Statista, about 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger.

By Victor Uzoho

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