By Stephen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General appears to have drawn the battle line with Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, who had , created Twitter Platform . Buhari’s anger was the ban placed on his account for violating the North American country of the United States, US, media giant operational policy.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have played into Dorsey and Williams’ hand, for tweeting that his government will threat those plotting to destroy the Nigerian corporate entity in the Language they may not understand. He may have alluded to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPO, which has Nnamdi Kanu, who is on self- exile in the United Kinddom, UK, as its Leader. He was said to have vowed to do everything possible to ensure that the south east secessionist Group, fail in their plot.
But the IPOB Group, may not be alone in the Nigerian’s President bad book as the sponsors and orchestrators of the attacks in the other parts of the country like the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State Of The West Province, ISWAP, based in the north east including the Bandits operating in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna , Katsina and the north central state of Niger, are also there.
An aggrieved who may have expressed his mind in the Tweet had said that those sponsoring the attacks in the different parts of the country are doing so to see that his Administration fail.
The excerpts of the Tweet that was said to have earned him Twitter ban and the subsequent indefinite suspension of the Company’s activities in the Nigeria by the government reads in part: I receive daily security reports on the attacks on critical national infrastructure , and it is very clear that those behind them want this Administration to fail. Whoever want the destruction of the system will soon have the shock of their lives. We’ve given enough time.
He had said that many of those misbehaving today in the south east geopolitical region are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the civil war. He may have been seen as beating the drum of war which was said to have violated the Twitter Pltatform operational policy when he declared that those of them ‘’ in the field for 30 months, who went through the war’’ , referring to the 1967-70, Civil war, in the southeastern geopolitical region that killed one million people, thus, leading to a 12 hour suspension of his Account.
In apparent reaction to the 12-hour ban placed on the Nigerian President’s Account, Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture had said that’’ Twitter operations in Nigeria is suspicious’’. The minister believes that Twitter had been forced to place the 12-hour ban on the Nigerian President’s Account because’’ some media users had criticized the retired Army General’s Tweet, which was believed to be targeted at the people of the south east, states, home of IPoB and ESN, members who are in forefront to revive Biafra.
This may have informed the recent crackdown on the IPOB and ESN, members , by the security agencies personnel, particular, the military and Policemen and the uproar in the region. The war of words on the Nigerian insecurity situation between the warring parties appear to have shifted to the social media network , particular, Twitter.
In announcing the indefinite suspension Twitter activities of microblogging and social networking services in Nigeria, Mohammed, the minister of Information and Culture had cited the ‘’persistent use of the US media giant, Platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence’’. The minister, however, did not provide any explanation to how the Company had undermined the corporate existence of Nigeria or how the ban on twitter Platform activities in Nigeria would work in practice, at a briefing in Lagos. Rather, he was said to have directed the, Nigerian Communication commission, NCC, ‘’to start the process of licensing all OTT, internet streaming operation services and social media operations in Nigeria.
He may have alluded to have Kanu, the IPOB, leader, who was believed to have been making inciting Tweets on the Twitter Platform but not sanctioned. An aggrieved Nigerian minister of Information and Culture had said that the US, median giant chose to ignore the inciting messages from the Court proscribed IPOB but was quick to enforce its rules on Buhari. This may have informed why he had accused Twitter of bias against the Nigerian President. Ironically, the minister had used the same Twitter social network it had banned to make its decision to suspend the company indefinitely from the country public.
Determined to enforce the suspension order placed on Twitter in Nigeria at the instance of the Nigerian President, Isah Pantami, the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was said to given a matching order to the NCC, to do the needful by blocking all access to Twitter through the country’s main phone network providers: MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9 Mobile .
The directives appear to have been carried out , according to reports filtering out from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre. As at Saturday, June 5, 2021, Nigerians who were said to have made efforts to connect to the Twitter Platform through MTN and Airtell, were said to have been disappointed. Other network providers were said to have also been affected, This may have informed why the technical personnel of Twitter, have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that its Platform remain accessible for now on VPN networks in Nigeria.
Recall that the Company had in April, 2021, announced that its new African office will be based in the West African country of Ghana. Given Twitter moves to get to the root of the cause of the conflict of interest between Buhari and the Company, the Management had said that’’ it is investigating and will provide updates when we know more about the Nigeria ban’’.
Indeed, between Friday, June 4, 2021, and now that the Nigerian government slammed the indefinite suspension on Twitter activities in the country, it has continued to be tongue lashed by critics, who believe that the Buhari Administration is dragging Nigerians far away from the digital age and infringing on their freedom of expression as enshrined in the African Human Rights Charter.
Wole Soyinka, a Professor and Nobel Laureate had said that there was no basis for the government to slam an indefinite suspension order on Twitter. Advising Buhari , whom he believes has a problem with Twitter to find a way to sort it out with the Company , and’’ not rope in the freedom of expression of the Nigerian citizen as collateral damage’’.
Soyinka , who could not hide his feelings had said ,’’this is a technical problem and Nigerians would be able to work their way around’’. The Ogun state born Nobel Laureate may have gladdened people’s heart with his remarks when he added that ‘’the field of expression remains wide open, free of any dictatorial spasms’’.
Amnesty international, an internal Human Rights Organisation, had asked the Nigerian government ‘’to reverse its decision on the indefinite suspension placed on Twitter activities in Nigeria and further plans to gag the media Nigeria. The Organisation had described the Nigerian government action ‘’as being clearly inconsistent and incompatible with the nation’s international obligations including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.
Olumide Akpata, President, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had said that there is no Constitutional provision or legal Authority that supports the suspension of Twitter activities from Nigeria by the Buhari led APC , government, at the Federal level.
The NBA, president who described the clamp down on Twitter Platform, for removing Buhari’s Tweet , which was a violation of its rules, as illegal and has vowed to challenge the decision in Court , if the government fail to reverse the order.