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Nigeria Ends Twitter Ban After Seven Months

Newspaper headlines in Abuja, Nigeria, reflected Thursday’s news about the government lifting its Twitter ban / Reuters. Nigeria said it wou...

Newspaper headlines in Abuja, Nigeria, reflected Thursday’s news about the government lifting its Twitter ban / Reuters.
Nigeria said it would allow Twitter Inc. to operate in the country again after indefinitely suspending the platform last year following the social-media company’s suspension of the Nigeria president’s account.

“Let me join fellow countrymen and women in welcoming the resolution of the impasse between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Twitter,” Garba Shehu, the spokesman for Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, said on Twitter, adding that the agreement will lay a “foundation for a mutually beneficial future with endless possibilities.” 

In a statement, Twitter said: “Our mission in Nigeria — and everywhere in the world — is to serve the public conversation. We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for commerce, cultural engagement, and civic participation.” Twitter said it plans to establish a legal entity in the country and comply with tax obligations.

Twitter suspended Mr. Buhari’s account in mid-2021 for a tweet that warned of returning to violence of a 1960s-era civil war that left millions dead. The tweet in question appeared to threaten violent reprisals for separatists from the Independent Peoples’ Republic of Biafra. The tweet–which was reported by thousands of Twitter users–was ultimately deleted by Twitter, which said the post violated the platform’s rules. 

Nigeria indefinitely suspended Twitter operations in the country. At the time, information minister Lai Mohammed cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” without elaborating. 

Censoring the internet has become a more common tactic for governments across Africa and much of the world. In 2020, parts or all of the Internet were shut down more than 200 times across 33 countries, according to nonprofit Access Now. Human-rights advocates have said cutting people off from the Internet has been used as a tactic to censor speeches and control elections.

Twitter has been a potent political force in the country where many citizens don’t trust the partisan media. Mr. Buhari–who joined Twitter in 2014–has been known to use the platform to explain government policy. Nigeria is the largest country in Africa by population, with an estimated 200 million people.