SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 September 2021, Thursday |

Twitter ban in Nigeria to end ‘very soon’, Information Minister says

Nigeria announced on Wednesday that it intends to lift its Twitter ban in “a few more days,” giving users hope that they would be able to return to the social media network three months after it was imposed.

The ban, which was imposed in June, has harmed Nigerian firms and been widely condemned for its negative impact on freedom of expression and the ease of doing business in Africa’s most populous country.

However, at a post-cabinet media briefing, Information Minister Lai Mohammed stated that the government was aware of the worry that the ban has caused many Nigerians.

“If the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell you that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now,” Mohammed said without giving a time frame.

When pressed further, Mohammed said authorities and Twitter officials had to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” before reaching a final agreement.

“It’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that,” he said.

The government suspended Twitter after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

It was a culmination of months of tension. Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey’s posts encouraging donations to anti-police brutality protests last October and Twitter posts from Nnamdi Kanu, a Biafran separatist leader currently on trial in Abuja, infuriated authorities.

Last month, Mohammed told Reuters the Twitter ban would be removed before the end of this year, adding that the government was awaiting a response on three final requests made of the social media platform.

The ban is just one area of concern for free speech advocates. Nigeria dropped five spots, to 120, in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, which described Nigeria as one of the most dangerous and difficult West Africa countries for journalists.