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Why Twitter Ban Was Finally Lifted in Nigeria

The Federal Government of Nigeria has officially announced the lift of the ban on Twitter after two hundred and twenty-two days.

Twitter lovers will now be able to log on to their Twitter handles without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

The Buhari led administration initially banned the microblogging platform on the 5th June 2021, after the platform took down the Presidents tweets for violating their terms of use by promoting hate.

The ban, lifted at midnight 13th January 2022, has seen the FG state that an agreement has been reached to its use in the country.

Mallam Inuwa Kashifu, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), shared the seal of agreement.

He said in his statement that the approval came after the president received a memo from Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

Reaction Trails Lift of Twitter Ban

Kashifu noted that the memo was updated and requested the president’s approval for lifting the ban based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement recommendation.

He added that the conditions given by the FGN address taxation, managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws and legal registration of operations.

While noting that they have agreed to meet all the conditions set, an execution timeline has started this week.

The Conditions Agreed to are,

1) Twitter has agreed to establish a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The entity’s establishment is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.

2) Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.

3) Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.

4) Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules. At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws. Taken together, these represent a comprehensive compliance apparatus.

5) Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.

Bearing the agreement to the stated terms and the official lift of the ban, Kashifu encourages users of the microblogging platform to maintain ethical behaviour and stop the spread of hateful, dangerous and distasteful news on the platform.

The Director-General reiterates the Federal Government’s commitment to work with Twitter and help Nigerians align and navigate its algorithmic design to realize its potentials while avoiding its perils.

“In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee led by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed, for the supervisory role and guidance given to the Technical Committee during the engagement,” he said.

“Similarly, the Presidential Committee commends the Technical Committee for a professional, robust and productive engagement with Twitter Inc.

“It also appreciates Government Regulatory Agencies and Internet Service Providers who implemented the FGN’s directives during the suspension,” he concluded.

The news of the lift of ban was met with mixed reactions; while some users felt excited about the new development, some felt the ban was never necessary in the first place as it didn’t change anything.

Others took the opportunity to criticize the government, stating that they saw through them preparing for the 2023 elections.

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