Barely 24 hours after the federal government of Nigeria placed a ban on Twitter’s operation in the country, Twitter users have started finding it difficult to access the site.
According to reports from Lagos and Abuja, access to Twitter through Nigeria’s main phone providers has been blocked despite ICT experts saying that the ban was impossible.
Yesterday, the federal government through the Information Minister; Lai Mohammed said it was suspending Twitter operations in the country “indefinitely”. The ban was due to “the persistent use of the platform for activities… capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”, a statement said.
In reaction to the ban, Twitter said Friday’s announcement from Lai Mohammed was “deeply concerning”.
By Saturday morning, BBC reporters in Lagos and Abuja said they were unable to connect to Twitter through two of the countries largest phone networks: MTN and Airtel. Others networks have also been affected.
Access was still possible through some wi-fi providers, but this is not a common way to connect to the internet in Nigeria.
Removal of Buhari tweet
The move by the government came just days after a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari was removed for breaching the site’s rules, though no mention of this was made in its statement.
Mr Mohammed has previously criticised the US social media giant’s decision to take it down, calling it “double standards”.
The tweet sent by Mr Buhari on 1 June referred to the 1967-70 Nigerian Civil War and to treating “those misbehaving today” in “the language they will understand”.
A Twitter spokesperson said at the time that the post “was in violation of the Twitter Rules”.
And in a statement on Friday, the company – which in April announced its new African headquarters would be based in neighbouring Ghana – said it was “investigating and will provide updates when we know more” about the Nigerian ban.
The government gave no details on how the ban would work in practice, or any explanation of how Twitter had undermined Nigeria’s corporate Search terms such as “VPN” were popular overnight, according to the search tracking site Trendsmap.
A VPN – or Virtual Private Network – connection makes it appear as if the user is accessing the internet from another country, and has been a way to get round similar bans in other countries.
The President Buhari’s administration keeps placing ban on so many things in the country yet they have not placed a ban on open grazing of Fulani herdsmen who are destroying lives and properties. This is really sad.
Nigeria is blessed with lots of talents in the tech industry. Hopefully, with the vast population of Twitter users, some tech start ups can build their own voice in bringing back Twitter or start up something similar to Twitter.
What do you guys think?