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Nigeria says Twitter, Facebook, others must be licensed before operation



Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari Photo; TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Nigerian government on Wednesday said all social media companies must be licensed before they operate in the West African country.


Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed told a news conference that he has directed the regulatory agency National Communications Commission (NCC) to commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations.

Mohammed said Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms must be registered in the country.

The minister’s declaration for the social media companies comes a week after the government’s faceoff with Twitter reached a climax over the deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet.

Buhari had threatened to deal with persons that are destroying government facilities and killing security operatives ‘in the language they understand’ with reference to the Nigerian civil – between 1967 and 1970 – where over three million citizens, mostly from the southeast region, were killed.

Many Nigerians saw Buhari’s comment as a threat of genocide against residents of the southeast region and requested that the president’s account be suspended. Their pleas were not granted but Twitter said the tweet violated its ‘abusive behaviour’ policy. Twitter deleted the President’s comment 12 hours after it was tweeted.

Irked by Twitter’s action, the Nigerian government on Friday announced an indefinite ban on the social media giant and accused Twitter of aiding the destruction of private and public properties that happened during the October 2020 #EndSARS protest against police brutality.


“Twitter may have its own rules, it’s not the universal rule. If Mr President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concern about a situation, he is free to express such views,” Mohammed said in reaction to Buhari’s deleted tweet.

“We have a country to rule and we will do so to the best of our ability. Twitter’s mission in Nigeria is very suspect, they have an agenda.”

Nigerians are still using Twitter with the aid of virtual private networks (VPN) but risk prosecution, according to Nigeria’s attorney general Abubakar Malami, who is being challenged by thousands, daring him with #MalamiSueMe on Twitter.

Already rights group SERAP and over 170 civil society organisations have instituted a human rights violation suit against the government but the authorities insist Nigerians can express their free speech on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

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