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Nigeria removes a country ban on Twitter after 7 months of suspension

Nigeria lifted a ban on Twitter that lasted 224 days because the company removed a tweet from the president.

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Illustration © Brett Jordan

Nigeria decided to lift a ban on Twitter on January 13 as the company agreed to open an office locally, among other agreements with authorities a senior government official said.

On June 4, Nigeria decided to ban Twitter over political resentment justifying Twitter’s activities “were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence“.

The ban followed the deletion of tweets published by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for violation of the platform’s regulations. He threatened to punish regional secessionists.

In return, the president criticized Twitter for not deleting right away tweets from the leader of the secessionist movement who called for killing the police. Buhari also considered Twitter helped funding the social unrest against police violence in the country in 2020 because of a tweet from the C.E.O. of Twitter at the time.

In a statement, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency, said that “Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built”.

Twitter opened an office in Ghana to grow in Western Africa

The federal government said that Twitter and other social media giants like Facebook needed to register in the country before being allowed to do business in Nigeria.

Individuals had access to Twitter if they used a Virtual Private Network but the government threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using the American microblogging platform.

Abdullahi said Twitter agreed to appoint a country representative to engage with Nigerian authorities and comply with local tax obligations. President Buhari agreed to lift the ban.

Last April, Twitter opened its first African office in Ghana. “Teams must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across Africa, and we can only do this by engaging local teams“, Twitter said at the time. Thy company wanted to focus its efforts on West Africa, primarily Ghana and Nigeria.

But installing an office in Ghana created a bit of a controversy in Nigeria. Some Nigerians complained their government was not able to attract Twitter’s office in the country.

Tolu Ogunlesi, special assistant on digital to President Buhari, had said it was “not even that big a deal” arguing that Microsoft, Facebook or Google had already invested in Nigeria.

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