In what looks like a New Year gift to millions of users of the micro-blogging search engine around the country, the federal government has lifted the ban on Twitter with effect from midnight of Thursday, January 13, 2022.
The cheery news comes 214 days after the government slammed a ban on it following the removal of a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Chairman, Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement, and Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), announced the lifting of the ban via a press statement.
Abdulahi, in the statement, said the approval was sequel to a memo written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, after the social networking platform had agreed to respect Nigeria’s laws and culture.
The Director-General said Prof. Pantami, in the Memo, updated the President and sought his approval for the lifting of the ban based on his committee’s recommendation.
“The federal government directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022,” Abdullahi announced in the statement.
“You may recall that on 5th June 2021, the FGN suspended the operation of Twitter through an announcement made by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed.
“Thereafter, the President constituted a seven-man Presidential Committee to engage Twitter Inc. Subsequently, in its wisdom, the Presidential Committee set a 20-member Technical Committee comprising all relevant government agencies. The Technical Committee engaged and worked directly with the Twitter team.”
However, the lifting of the suspension of Twitter is not without conditions. According to Abdulahi, the Federal Government agreed to void the suspension after Twitter had agreed to respect Nigeria’s laws, its national culture and history.
Twitter, the DG continued, also agreed to collaborate with the federal government and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices. The company also agreed to set up an establishment in the country within the first quarter of this year, a vital step in underscoring its long-term commitment to Nigeria.
The company would register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), with the establishment of the entity being Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.
Also, Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities as well as complying with applicable tax obligations on its operations under the Nigerian law.
The statement stressed that Twitter has agreed to enroll Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals, which provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules.
The federal government said the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the country’s law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws.
Abdullahi added up all these and declared: “Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022.
“We encourage all users of the Twitter platform to maintain ethical behaviour and refrain from promoting divisive, dangerous, and distasteful information on the platform.
“As patriotic citizens, we need to be mindful that anything illegal offline is also illegal online and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction.”
The Director-General described government’s action as a deliberate attempt to re-calibrate its relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for the nation without jeopardising the justified interests of the company.
His words: “The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators wield enormous influence over the fabric of our society, social interaction and economic choices. These platforms can be used as either a tool or a weapon. Every nation is grappling with how to balance its usage efficiently. Without balancing, every citizen’s security, privacy, social well-being, and development are at stake. Therefore, our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful.”