The Nigerian government has justified its widely-condemned suspension of Twitter, saying that the social media platform made several efforts to destabilise the country.
Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed listed the “sins” during on state-run television, NTA.
Mohammed said Twitter has become a stage of choice for secessionists to carry out their agenda.
The minister lamented that the platform was used regularly to encourage activities that would lead to the collapse of the country.
He said the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who stays comfortably in Europe, had been using Twitter to direct people to attack the symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The minister said Kanu, as a leader of a separatist group, used that platform to direct his supporters to attack policemen, military men, barracks, offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others.
“Before its suspension, we made several pleas to them to remove the tweets where Nigeria is described as a zoo where all of us are described as monkeys,” Mohammed told NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme on Friday.
“We also pleaded to Twitter to delete the tweet where he said that if a Nigerian soldier enters into Biafra, it is death.
“Twitter, however, said that those tweets did not offend their own rules.
“It gets out of hand when attacks on police and military formations, police and army officers became unabated and we said at this point, we will need to suspend their operations.”
Mohammed added that the Muhammadu Buhari regime suspected Twitter and its founder, Jack Dorsey, to have sponsored last year’s EndSARS protest which almost destabilised the country and led to the death of many, including the destruction of public and private property.
He said when he asserted that Twitter funded the EndSARS protest, his position was substantiated by the fact checks made by an online media outfit, TheCable.
“The online media concluded that on October 14, 2020, Dorsey actually retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalitions supporting the EndSARS protest.
“On the same day, he launched fundraising asking people to donate via Bitcoins.
“On October 16, 2020, Dorsey launched another emoji to make the EndSARS protest visible on the microblogging site.
“On October 20, 2020, he retweeted the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of EndSARS,’’ he said.
The minister said his claims were proven right by the investigations of TheCable, including the fact that Twitter founder solicited donations to support EndSARS.
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest,” Mohammed said.
“We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisation were looted while 243 public property were looted.
“81 warehouses were looted and we are now saying we don’t have a reason to ban Twitter,’’ he said.
The minister said it was discriminating to conclude that the operation of Twitter was suspended indefinitely because it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet.
He said the government was definite that the action was taken because the platform was being used to promote the opinions of those who want to break the country.
Speaking on the timing of the ban on Twitter, the minister said the government had the right to regulate when and where to make a pronouncement on policy and action affecting the corporate existence of the country.