Lai Mohammed: Nigeria To Lift Ban On Twitter In A Few Days

The Nigerian government says it will lift the ban on Twitter in a ‘few days.’

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this while answering questions from State House journalists at the end of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Mohammed said progress is being made in talks with the social media giant.

“I think even Twitter itself two days ago gave what I will call a progress report on our talks with them, and I think if I want to quote them rightly it has been productive and quite respectful.

“And as to the qualifying word for when or how soon, I want to assure you that the time that Twitter operation has been suspended, between the time it has been suspended, and when it will be restored is by far, much, much shorter.

“That I can assure you that it is by far in other words, if the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now,” he said.

Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter on June 4, two days after the microblogging site took down a controversial tweet by Mr Buhari.

The government cited “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” as reason for the ban that took effect almost immediately.

The government also directed broadcasters to suspend “patronage” of the platform. It described its further use by the broadcast stations as “unpatriotic.”

Media and human rights advocates condemned the directive of the broadcast regulator, calling it “illegal” and an attack on press freedom, but major broadcast stations stayed off Twitter to comply with the order.

In August, the Nigerian government said the temporary ban on Twitter may be lifted soon with Mr Mohammed saying talks were still ongoing and many agreements had been reached with Twitter.

The ban on Twitter has been condemned by many Nigerians, civic groups and the international community.

The international community said the government’s ban of Twitter portrays Nigeria in a bad light before its citizens, potential investors and business owners.

More than 100 days after the ban, activists insisted the ban was undemocratic, but authorities said it was to protect the corporate existence of the country.

Opposition leaders and civil society organisations have also criticised the government for the ban and some rights groups have sued the Nigerian government at the ECOWAS Court.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the ECOWAS court, in an interim order, “restrained the government and its agents from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the plaintiffs and other Nigerians who are Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of this suit.”

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