Nigerians on Twitter react to Nigeria’s Twitter suspension

Social media users take to social media platform to blast authorities’ decision to ‘indefinitely’ suspend its operations.

The government said Twitter was being used for activities 'capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence' [File: Olivier Douliery/AFP]

Social media users in Nigeria on Friday swiftly inundated Twitter to express their shock and outrage after the government announced the indefinite suspension of the tech giant’s operations in the country.

The authorities’ move came two days after Twitter had temporarily suspended the account of President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the social media company’s “abusive” behaviour policy. Buhari’s account was put on hold for 12 hours after he threatened punishment for regional secessionists blamed for attacks on government buildings.

In a vague statement on Twitter, which did not clarify when the move would come into force, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture said the social media platform was being used for activities “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Responding below the ministry’s post, many users pointed out the irony of announcing such a move on Twitter itself.

‘Fisayo Soyombo, freelance investigative journalist and ex-editor of TheCable, labelled the government’s decision “shameful”, while human rights lawyer Clement Nwankwo said the “unconstitutional” move should be “immediately reversed”.

‘Gbenga Sesan, executive director of Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and digital rights, said the move “will only end in disgrace” and urged users to download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to retain access.

Unsurprisingly, there was no dearth of jokes, either.

Blogger and political commentator Japheth Omojuwa dubbed the “disaster” as coming from the “Federal Ministry of Emotional & Irrational Reactions”.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International’s Nigeria branch condemned the move and called on authorities to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights”.

Some users cited last year’s popular protests against police brutality, which saw young people mobilising through social media under the #EndSARS hashtag, as the reason behind the move.

Source: Al Jazeera