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NBC Directs Broadcasting Stations to Stop Using Twitter

NBC Directs Broadcasting Stations to Stop Using Twitter

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has directed broadcasting stations in the country to stop using Twitter, a microblogging platform.


The directive is in a statement issued by Armstrong Idachaba, NBC acting director-general, on Monday.


The federal government announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria on Friday.


The suspension came after a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari was taken down by the social media platform.

NBC Directs Broadcasting Stations to Stop Using Twitter
NBC Directs Broadcasting Stations to Stop Using Twitter

Idachaba said stations should uninstall the application “and desist from using Twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for News and programmes Presentation especially phone-in”.



“Section 2(1) r of the NBC Act entrusts the Commission with responsibility to ensure strict adherence to the national laws, rules and regulations,” the DG said.


“Section 3.11.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code provides that ‘the broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a matter depicting that law and order are socially superior to or more desirable than Crime and Anarchy.”


“Attention is also drawn to section 5.6.3 of The Code which requires Broadcasters to be mindful of materials that may cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society in the use of a user generated Content (UGC).


“Note that it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information therefore strict compliance is enjoined.”

NBC Directs Broadcasting Stations to Stop Using Twitter

Nigerians have been able to access Twitter through the use of a virtual private network (VPN).


More than 39 million Nigerians have Twitter, according to NOI Polls, a public opinion and research organisation.



The foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned diplomats for a meeting on Monday in the capital, Abuja, after the EU and several countries issued a joint statement voicing concerns about the Twitter ban.


“Banning systems of expression is not the answer,” the EU, US, Britain, Canada and Ireland said in the statement on Saturday. The statement added it was “precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic”.


The government’s suspension came after Twitter on Wednesday deleted a post on President Muhammadu Buhari’s account for violating its rules on abuse. The tweet referred to his role as a soldier in the civil war five decades ago in a fierce warning against secessionists accused of a spate of recent attacks.


“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war,” Buhari wrote.


“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” referencing his role as a brigade major during the Biafra war, one of the darkest chapters in Nigeria’s history.


The war ended the attempts by mainly Igbo people in south-east Nigeria to create an independent nation of Biafra.



The presidency denied the Twitter suspension was a response to the removal of that post yet the president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu criticised the move as “disappointing.”


“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences,” he said.


Twitter said it was deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria and it would work to restore access for all. International human rights groups have also condemned the move, which followed previous attempts by the government to regulate social media.


“VPN app” was the second most searched trend on Saturday on Google in Nigeria, as virtual private networks can enable Twitter users to bypass the ban. Authorities have however warned anyone posting would be prosecuted.


“Attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, has directed for immediate prosecution of offenders of the federal government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria,” a spokesperson, Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said.


Calls by government officials and lawmakers to regulate and restrict social media use have grown in recent years.



The platform has played an important role in public discourse in the country, including under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014, and #EndSars, during anti-police brutality protests last year.


Demonstrators had used social media to organise, raise money and share footage of alleged police abuses. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted to encourage his followers to donate to the protesters raising funds.


A bill being considered by lawmakers, promising to regulate social media including by punishing “false statements” and enabling the government to shut down the internet, has been widely condemned as an attempt at censorship.

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