The Nigerian government has indicated an interest in reversing the temporal ban placed on Twitter. Recall Nigeria suspended Twitter in the country in June after the social media platform deleted a controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari. The controversial tweet by the president warning the Indigenous People of Biafra that they “will be treated in the language they understand” which was perceived to have incited violence resulted in the ban thereby restricting Twitter operations in Nigeria. Many Nigerians relied on Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers in other to navigate the ban.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made this known while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the First Lady’s Conference room, Presidential Villa, Abuja. The Minister while receiving questions from the press stated that progress has been made in resolving the ban following series of meetings between both parties.
The Minister stated some of the conditions made by the Federal Government for Twitter operations to resume in Nigeria. These conditions include that Twitter should establish a legal presence in the country, register as a Nigerian company with an address, and commit itself to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as well as other relevant regulatory authorities like NIPDA, NCC, broadcasting commission. Understanding that according to Nigeria laws if you make money from Nigeria, you pay taxes and other tax liabilities like any company resident in Nigeria would.
Another condition mentioned by the Minister for the ban to be lifted is for Twitter to employ designated country representatives. He said, “As of today, we are not aware of any Twitter representative in Nigeria, and we say that that representative shall be a staff of Twitter so that he can have access to the global management of Twitter.” It’s expected that the Country Representative will serve as a liaison between Twitter and the Country. He also added “We also proposed to Twitter that we should agree on a charter of online conduct for content management so that this charter will guide both of us. We will agree on which content would be acceptable, what is not acceptable.
The Minister expressed confidence that everything will be ironed out with Twitter within “matter days or weeks”, noting the high anxiety that has been shown by Nigerians. He also expressed that there were about three to four areas both parties were yet to reach an agreement which includes opening a Nigerian office with staff, adding that Twitter has agreed to open an office in the country in 2022.