On Friday, the Nigerian government announced that it would be “indefinitely” suspending Twitter, following the social media platform deleting one of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets.
The now-deleted tweet, which Twitter said was in violation of its content moderation policies, made reference to the Biafra war as a means to threaten punishment towards secessionists.
— Fed Min of Info & Cu (@FMICNigeria) June 4, 2021
The tweet read, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.” according to The Verge.
The platform was suspended for deleting the tweet as well as what Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Alhaj Lai Mohammed called, “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
According to Reuters, the platform’s website was inaccessible on several of Nigeria’s mobile networks, including South Africa’s own MTN. Some Nigerians have been able to overcome the block using VPNs, but Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s attorney general, told CNN that citizens discovered to still be tweeting would face the prosecution.
“Any violator, whether individuals or organizations, will be prosecuted,” he said. “Those who are apprehended will get to know what sort of prosecution awaits them.”
Twitter Public Policy announced that it was “deeply concerned” with the blocking of the platform and that it, “will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world.”