President Muhammad Buhari, president of Nigeria
President Muhammad Buhari, president of Nigeria

JUST IN: FG Lifts Suspension of Twitter Operations in Nigeria

TECHDIGEST – President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 a.m. tonight, 13th
January 2022.

The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim.

In the Memo, the Minister updated and
requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical
Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.

Chairman of the Technical Committee on Nigeria -Twitter Engagement and
Director-General of the
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi announced this today in Abuja.

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.

The immediate and remote cause of the suspension was the unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes
and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along
tribal and religious lines, among others.

These issues bordering on National Security, Cohesion and the effects of the abuse of the Twitter platform forced
the FGN to suspend the operation of Twitter to address the direct and collateral issues around its operations in Nigeria.

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 action is a deliberate attempt to
recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual
benefits for our nation without jeopardising the justified interests of the
Company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful.

“The process of resolving this impasse between the FGN and Twitter Inc. has helped lay a foundation for a mutually beneficial future with endless

“Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians ranging from young innovators to public sector officials who find it helpful to engage their

“Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria. Furthermore, the FG looks forward to providing a conducive environment for Twitter and other global tech companies to achieve their potential and be sustainably profitable
in Nigeria.

“While appreciating all Nigerians, especially the vibrant Nigerian youths
who have borne with the long wait to resolve this impasse, the FGN is happy
to say that the gains made from this shared national sacrifice are
immeasurable. Some of the gains include:

a) Ongoing economic and training opportunities as the Company continues
to consider expanding its presence in Nigeria;

b) Getting a better understanding of how to use the Twitter platform
effectively to improve businesses;

c) Revenue generation from the operation of Twitter in Nigeria;

d) Smooth and coordinated relationship between Nigerian Government and Twitter leading to mutual trust;

e) Reduction of cybercriminal activities such as terrorism, cyberstalking, hate speech, etc.; and

f) Working with Twitter and other global companies to build an acceptable
code of conduct following the global best practice

The FGN has asked Twitter to fulfil some conditions before restoring its services. These conditions addressed legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws. Twitter has agreed to meet all the conditions set by the FGN. Consequently, the FGN and
Twitter have decided on an execution timeline, which has started this week.

“Our engagement with Twitter opens a new chapter in global digital diplomacy and sets a new operational template for Twitter to come back stronger for the benefit of Nigerians”.

The following are the resolutions agreed with Twitter. Inc.:

i. Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.

ii. 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.

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

iv. 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.

v. 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.

“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.

“Considering Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the very fabric of our corporate existence as a Nation, our priority is to adapt, not
ban, Twitter.

“The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do anything possible to help Nigerians align and navigate Twitter algorithmic design to
realise its potentials while avoiding its perils.

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

“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,” the statement concluded.

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