Nigeria Twitter Ban: Malami Orders Prosecution of Offenders; as FG goes for Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, others

Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has directed for immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.


Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

Nigeria Twitter Ban: Malami Orders Prosecution of Offenders

A statement signed by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, states that Malami has directed the DPPF to liase with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.

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Twitter is currently working fine in Nigeria but fluctuating. Its a bigger fight than just social media rant. Which points to the obvious statement above which will most likely involve ‘enforcement agents’.


Meanwhile, Twitter is not the only platform the federal government is trying to regulate as the government also hinted at licensing social media and OTT operations in Nigeria, according to the statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.


“The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria,” Alhaji Lai said.

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Tweet posts by popular social and political commentator, Oluseyi Sonaiya, explained OTT and the implication of the government’s intention to regulate the space.


“OTT” stands for “over the top,” and is video industry parlance for content delivered via the internet, independent of traditional broadcast, cable, and terrestrial satellite networks.



Netflix, HBO Now/Max, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video… –  all OTT.

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The announcement instructs the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to begin registering all OTT and social media services. This creates the opportunity for regulation and forcible compliance as a means of ensuring certain information is not available in the country,” Sonaiya tweeted, following the statement by Lai Mohammed.


What happens now?
It would appear that the government’s motive for the Twitter ban and the demand that social media and OTT services become registered, is to gag free speech and silence dissenting voices. It remains to be seen how far they would go in fostering this agenda and the punitive measures they would institute for non-compliance.


The speech by Alhaji Lai has once again, brought the government into the spotlight both locally and internationally, and most of the reactions following the announcement of the ban and its actual implementation have been at variance with the government’s decision.


Locally, notable voices including vociferous Lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana; musician cum politician, Bankole Wellington (Banky W); Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; popular technocrat, Atedo Peterside; and a host of others have openly disagreed with the government’s move with Governor Makinde outrightly calling for a reversal.



Internationally, representatives of foreign governments including the embassies of Sweden, Canada and the UK have equally disagreed with the government via tweet posts. It is expected that more of this will follow in the coming days particularly if a clampdown on social media and OTT platforms actually begins.

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In the meanwhile, Nigerians observe with bated breath to see what would become of activities on beloved platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Netflix and several others. Perhaps, in the coming days, the government through its respective media and communications regulatory agencies would provide more clarifications on the expectations from these platforms. This is assuming that the government is not mandated by the court to stay action on its decision until the issue is decided legally, as various civil rights groups, notably SERAP, have hinted at suing the government for the ban.


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The United Kingdom Government has kicked against the indefinite suspension slammed on Twitter by President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.


The UK government reacted through its High Commissioner in Nigeria, Gill Atkinson on Friday.


Atkinson said Nigerians have right to freedom of speech and the government must not suppress it.


“All Nigerians have the right to freedom of speech and the responsibility not to misuse that right.


“Any action taken by Government must be measured, proportionate and not to suppress basic freedoms.”



The Federal Government on Friday announce the suspension of microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria.


Minister Lai Mohammed made the announcement during a press conference on Friday.


Mohammed had explained that Nigerians were using Twitter to perpetuate activities inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria, hence announcing its suspension.



Nairametrics/Daily Posts

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