Twitter moves ‘to restore access’ as Nigerians tweet despite government’s suspension, threat

*The leading tech giant says access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society, as it is working to restore access for all Nigerians who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the global world

*‘You want to arrest anyone still using Twitter? How did you access them if you are not secretly doing same?’ ask Nigerian stakeholders

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following the decision of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of the leading social media network and microblogging site in the country, Twitter Saturday, June 5, 2021, said it was working to restore access to consumers affected by suspension of its services in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect had reported that earlier Friday, June 5, the Federal Government announced the suspension after Twitter had deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official account Wednesday.

In view of the current development in the Nigerian telecom ecosystem, Twitter’s Public Policy team tweeted Saturday stated: “We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

“Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.

“We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn”

ALTON confirms receipt of government’s directive to block access to Twitter

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), an industry group, has confirmed it had received directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecom industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter in the country.

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, President of ALTON, acknowledged this in a statement Saturday, June 5.

Adebayo stated that the Association wished to confirm that its members had received formal instructions from NCC to suspend access to Twitter.

Nigerians continue to tweet

In spite of the ban of the company’s operations, and the Federal Government’s subsequent directive to the country’s telecommunication firms to block Twitter services on their networks, Nigerians have defied the President Muhammadu administration’s order, according to report.

Users of the social media network are said to have continued tweeting after the prosecution threat by the office of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.

Report indicates that Nigerians have continued to tweet in defiance to threat by the governmental authorities to arrest and prosecute anyone who tweets in the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Honourable Minister for Justice, in a statement Saturday afternoon, had ordered the arrest and prosecution of any Nigerian seen accessing his or her Twitter account.

However, it was gathered that the government’s threat to arrest and prosecute has not dissuaded Nigerians from tweeting and engaging on the micro-blogging site.

Incidentally, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer (GO) of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and ‘spiritual father’ of Vice-President (Prof.) Yemi Osibanjo, took to Twitter shortly after Malami threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone who accesses the Twitter platform in the country.

“No retreat. No Surrender”, Pastor Adeboye tweeted, sharing a video of his message.

“No Retreat, No Surrender #WeMove #ForJesus, he tweeted at Pastor Adeboye (@PastorEAAdeboye) June 5, 2021.

Likewise, Johnson Suleman, Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministry, took to his Twitter handle to challenge the possibility of arresting consumers for using Twitter without monitoring them on the same platform.

Suleman asked: “You want to arrest anyone still using Twitter?

“How did you access them if you are not secretly doing same? A deaf and dumb puts on ear-piece.!!”

Mr. Demola Olarenwaju (@DemolaRewaju) June 5, 2021, a Nigerian, was also quoted to have written that “Malami’s order of prosecution for tweeting is a declaration of war on young people by pushing them into the trap of security agencies of state who now have one more illegal reason to extort, detain, harass or even kill anyone for the alleged ‘crime’ of using Twitter.”

Olanrewaju noted the order of prosecution for tweeting is a declaration of war on young people by pushing them into the trap of security agencies of state who now have one more illegal reason to extort, detain, harass or even kill anyone for the alleged ‘crime’ of using Twitter.

Comrade Deji Adeyanju, an activist (@adeyanjudeji) June 5, 2021, interrogated the legality of Mr. Malami’s order issued Saturday.

“Dear Nigerians, don’t allow them to bully you. The goal is to bully you with their illiteracy.

“Nobody can arrest you for using Twitter. I hereby, volunteer myself for Malami’s experiment. Which Police station should I report to for using Twitter?” Adeyanju stated.

Segun Awosanya, another activist, also wrote: “Malami and his fellow travellers are arrogating powers that they don’t have unto themselves because of the dearth of leadership and gap in responsibility of the state.”

According to him, as far as they are concerned they wield the powers of all arms of Govt combined at the expense of us all.

In its comment on the status quo in Nigeria, the International Press Institute (IPI) says the ban is “detrimental to the free press in Nigeria which uses Twitter as a major platform.”

The body urged the Federal Government to reverse the action and engage meaningfully with the social media company (Twitter) in order to resolve its grievances, The Gazette report said.

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