The social media war ignited by Federal Government against Twitter has taken a new turn.
This follows an order by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for immediate prosecution of offenders of the Twitter’s ban on operations in Nigeria.
The AGF, in a statement that was signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, DPPF, “to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.”
Recall that the Nigerian government had, Friday, announced its decision to indefinitely suspend the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who announced the suspension, cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
This is as the Federal Government has followed through with its decision to ban the operations of microblogging site, Twitter in Nigeria after citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining the nation’s corporate existence as its reason for the action.
Checks by this reporter between the hours of 3a.m and 4a.m revealed that tweets were not loading across all devices.
An attempt to refresh tweets returned the message “Tweets aren’t loading right now. Try again” on mobile, while on desktop, it was “This site can’t be reached.”
Malami further directed the DPPF, “to liaise with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communications Commission, NCC, and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay”.
He further stated that FG had also directed the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, “to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.”
The action had since elicited varied reactions from Nigerians, with many, urging the government to rescind the decision.
Meanwhile, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has confirmed the receipt of directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to suspend access to Twitter.
The President of ALTON, Mr Gbenga Adebayo stated this in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, on Saturday.
The directives many not be unconnected with Friday’s indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operations, two days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Buhari’s account.
Adebayo noted that the association wished to confirm that its members had received formal instructions from NCC, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.
“ALTON has also conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of NCC.
“We will continue to engage all relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC, ” Adebayo said.
He said the association remained committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.
As an industry, ALTON endorsed the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online, Adebayo’s statement said.
He noted that this included respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.
Already, Twitter, Micro-blogging site, has described the decision of the Federal government to suspend its operations in Nigeria as “deeply concerning.”
Twitter’s Senior Policy Communications Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sarah Hart, stated this in an email response sent to The Cable. The mail reads
“The announcement made by the Nigerian Government that they have suspended Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning.
“We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” Hart was quoted as saying.