By John Ikani
Many Nigerians on Thursday were able to access Twitter without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) after the Federal Government lifted its suspension on the microblogging network.
Nigeria suspended Twitter in June 2021, days after the platform deleted a remark from Buhari’s account, provoking outcry over freedom of expression in Africa’s most populous country.
Nigerian officials defended the suspension, saying Twitter was used to promote fake news and for destabilising activities, especially by separatists in the southeast region of the country.
While the suspension lasted, Buhari’s Government and Twitter have been in talks over a list of conditions for ending the suspension, including discussions on taxes, content, and registering locally in Nigeria.
In a memo announcing the lifting of the suspension on Wednesday, the Federal Government said Twitter had agreed to meet all the conditions set by the FGN.
The memo issued by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Mallam Inuwa Kashifu, listed the resolutions agreed with Twitter Inc to include establishing a legal presence in Nigeria while allowing the Government to play a part in its curation process.
The resolutions agreed with Twitter Inc
“Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022.
“The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.
“Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities.
“The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.
“Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.
“Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals.
“The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules.
“At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws.
“Taken together, these represent a comprehensive compliance apparatus.
“Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.
“Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022.
“We encourage all users of the Twitter platform to maintain ethical behaviour and refrain from promoting divisive, dangerous, and distasteful information on the platform.
“As patriotic citizens, we need to be mindful that anything illegal offline is also illegal online and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction.
“Considering Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the very fabric of our corporate existence as a Nation, our priority is to adapt, not ban, Twitter.
“The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do anything possible to help Nigerians align and navigate Twitter algorithmic design to realise its potentials while avoiding its perils.
“In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee led by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed, for the supervisory role and guidance given to the Technical Committee during the engagement.
“Similarly, the Presidential Committee commends the Technical Committee for a professional, robust and productive engagement with Twitter Inc.
“It also appreciates Government Regulatory Agencies and Internet Service Providers who implemented the FGN’s directives during the suspension.”