Fireworks, anger trail Buhari’s ‘shock threat’ to secessionists
• Twitter deletes Buhari’s ‘civil war’ post for violating rules
• FG lampoons action, says social media giant applying double standards
• Igbo youths petition UN, ICC, USA, UK over ‘genocidal comments’
• Tender apology to Igbo people, Ohanaeze tells Buhari
• Statement not presidential, say Fayose, Aare Ona Kakanfo, Northern youths
• Group backs Buhari on stiffer measures against secessionists
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Tuesday stern warning to secessionists assumed global dimension when the popular micro-blogging platform, Twitter, deleted a tweet on the President’s official handle @MBuhari, in which he threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving in the language they understand.”
President Buhari had in the tweet shared on Tuesday, cited the Nigerian Civil War experience, which was fought between 1967 and 1970, and noted that most of those “misbehaving” by burning electoral offices were too young to understand the gravity of war.
The tweet had attracted millions of comments and widespread condemnation with many Nigerians criticising the president for making reference to the war in which millions of Nigerians, mostly of Igbo extraction, were killed.
Some Nigerians had called on Twitter to suspend his account, claiming the president’s tweet “expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide”, as stated on Twitter’s usage policy.
However, Twitter yesterday deleted the message and replaced the tweet with: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules. Learn More.”
A click on the “Learn More,” which is a hyperlink redirect to a Twitter page containing reasons why a Twitter user and/or their content may be sanctioned.
According to Twitter: “When we determine that a Tweet violated the Twitter Rules, we require the violator to remove it before they can Tweet again.
“We send an email notification to the violator identifying the Tweet(s) in violation and which policies have been violated. They will then need to go through the process of removing the violating Tweet or appealing our review if they believe we made an error.”
The Twitter flag-down, akin to January’s suspension of then U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, has been received with mixed reactions. The Federal Government yesterday took a swipe at the social media giant, alleging double standards in matters particularly bordering on Nigeria’s domestic issues, describing the company’s role in the country as “suspicious.”
Reacting after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, pointedly accused Twitter of double standards in the domestic affairs of Nigeria.
The minister was responding to a question on the perception of double standards applied by President Buhari in responding to security concerns in some regions of the country as well as the fact that Twitter had pulled down his post.
Mohammed stated with dismay that while Twitter has deliberately ignored inciting tweets by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and his cohorts, it also displayed the same biases it did during the #EndSARS protests where government and private properties were looted and set on fire, terming its human rights.
“Twitter’s role is suspect, Nigeria will not be fooled anymore. Twitter may have its own rules, it is not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views. Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges. If an organisation is proscribed, it is different from any other, which is not proscribed.
“Two, you have an organisation that gives directives to its members to attack police stations, kill policemen, attack correctional centres, kill warders, and you are saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that? I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organisation or a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria and direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the police and military, especially when that organisation has been proscribed.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspect. Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? The same Twitter during the #EndSARS protests was funding the protesters, saying it was about the right to protest. But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol, it became insurrection. You see, we are not going to be fooled by anybody.”
Asked why Sheik Gumi, whose comments justifying Boko Haram actions in the past, has not been arrested by security agents, the minister said: “You are mixing up things. If an organisation is proscribed abinitio, that organisation does not exist in that country. There are many Nigerians, for instance, who have been inciting people against government. But we are discussing Twitter. There are so many people who have been spewing hate against Mr. President, against this government. If we were to pick up everybody today who had been abusing this administration, the detention centres will be filled up and you will be the first person also to talk about lack of tolerance, lack of rule of law.”
MEANWHILE, the President’s threat to “shock” agitators and secessionists in the Southeast, whom he claimed were destabilising his government is receiving condemnation from Ndigbo, who accused him of “being in a mission to annihilate the region.”
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has condemned President Buhari’s ‘genocidal’ statement. Secretary-General of the body, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, asked the president to immediately retract the statement, which threatens a repeat of the civil war experience.
The body also urged Buhari to tender an unreserved apology to the Igbo and show love to the people of the region by having a dialogue with Igbo governors and leaders, including youths and agitators.
The statement read: “We are using this channel to remind President Buhari that there are killer-herdsmen and Northern bandits based on the earlier warnings of U.S. Embassy, Abuja, that they are heading South to destabilise the region.”
Emeritus President General of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, who stated that he was not surprised about the position being canvassed by the President, insisted that the President’s governance style and action had always been against the Igbo.
“Not too long ago, the President was appealing to bandits to release some students kidnapped in Kaduna. Mr President also said nothing about the kidnap of over 200 students of the Islamiyya School in Niger State. Mr President did not threaten those in Borno; he did not threaten those in Zamfara who are kidnapping there. He did not threaten those who have made Kaduna ungovernable. He did not threaten the Fulani herdsmen killing people in Benue nor showed concern about it. He is threatening those who are busy shaking their fists. IPOB does not carry weapons.”
Also speaking, Board Chairman of the World Igbo Peoples Assembly (WIPAS), Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, stated that the President should be held responsible “for promoting insecurity through his actions and policies,” stressing that it was sad that he had resorted to threatening those asking for justice, fairness and equity.
National Coordinator of the National Renaissance, Dr Geoffery Igwebuike, who wondered what the President expects to achieve with the statement, said such posture provokes “feelings of hatred and abandonment.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) has, however, petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC), United Nations (UN) and the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States over President Buhari’s threat against ‘insurrectionists’ campaigning against his regime.
National President of OYC, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, said Buhari had prepared the ground for another attack on Ndigbo by security forces. Nnabuike said that the President had pushed Ndigbo to the wall enough for them to react.
In the petition sent to ICC and others, the group wrote: “We write to alert the international community on another planned attack against Ndigbo. This is sadly coming few days after Ndigbo held a memorial in honour of over five million lives wasted, including children, during the civil war. We are more concerned that this is coming from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We are, therefore, alerting you of this looming attack in Igboland, as Mr. President has given the security agencies licence to wipe our people out as can be deduced from his recent statement. Already, many innocent Igbo youths have been murdered by security forces under the guise of hunting ESN.”
ALSO reacting, former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has mocked President Buhari over his ‘treat them in the language they understand’ tweet, which has now been deleted by Twitter. He said: “A President who cannot address his own people in time of crisis can certainly not be the one tweeting on the crisis. Twitter should rather hold Garba Shehu, Lai Mohammed and co accountable. It is obvious that those using the President’s powers for him do not know when and where to stop their power-madness.
“Regrettably, Twitter may not know that Buhari is not the one operating the handle. Can our President operate Android Phone not to talk of making genocidal tweets? Nigeria is boiling everywhere and all that the President can do is to be threatening genocide up and down?”
The Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, urged Mr. President to stop threatening the agitators but to address the issues that pushed them to resort to self-determination. He also enjoined the President not to allow the few elite, who trooped to his office daily deceive him to apply force in stopping the agitators “otherwise Nigeria might snowball into another civil war.”
Adams said the administration itself has failed in several ways and that its policies and styles are fueling the crisis. “For instance, this government promised to restructure the country but reneged when it assumed power for the last six years despite having the ample opportunity to do so. It is not about issuing threats. I can assure him that such an approach would not resolve this issue on the ground.”
On insecurity, Adams put the blame on President Buhari, whom he accused of treating the armed Fulani herdsmen, who are forcefully killing farmers, claiming lands and perpetrating various crimes with kids gloves. “Members of other ethnic nationalities cannot fold their arms and look when their lives, property and ancestral inheritance are under threat and the government of the day is doing nothing.”
The Aare Onakanakanfo said the Southwest is not deploying violence to achieve its demand for self-determination. “There is no violence in Yoruba land, at least for now. The Southeast is hot but Mr. President should also know that his geo-political zone, Northwest is also heated up with insecurity just as the Northeast. It is therefore left for him to look at the issues holistically instead of issuing threats.”
Also condemning the President for his tweet, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has said the statement was not presidential. A statement signed by the spokesman for the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the comment showed that Buhari had lost total control of the security of the country.
HOWEVER, another group, Vanguard for Peace and National Development, has thrown its weight behind the threat by President Buhari to crush separatist groups in the country. The group in a statement by its Executive Director, Arc. Ahmed Tijani, enjoined President Buhari to probe the unholy alliances between some highly placed politicians with managers of the various security outfits in the country.
The group argued that President Buhari’s zero tolerance for the activities of IPOB speaks volume of his resolve to ensure Nigeria remains an indivisible entity. The group particularly wondered why heads of security agents in the country failed to hold the Senate Minority leader, Mr Enyinnaya Abaribe, accountable over his role in the bail granted leader of IPOB, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.
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