Why Nigerian government hasn’t lifted Twitter ban – Festus Keyamo

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, says the dialogue to lift the ban on Twitter is in progress with few conditions yet to be met.


While speaking about the federal government’s promise of lifting the ban in “just a few more days” in September, Mr Keyamo, in an interview on Channels Television programme, Politics Today, on Sunday, explained why the ban has not been lifted.


The operation of the microblogging platform in Nigeria was suspended on June 4, two days after a controversial tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari was deleted by Twitter. The Nigerian government, however, accused Twitter of sponsoring dissent in the country.

Why Nigerian government hasn’t lifted Twitter ban - Festus Keyamo
Why Nigerian government hasn’t lifted Twitter ban – Festus Keyamo

In his explanation, the minister, who is part of the cabinet members involved in the dialogue with Twitter, disclosed that Twitter has agreed to all the Nigerian government’s conditions but singled out “timelines” as the only hiccup.

“It was Twitter, just to put it in context, that reached out to the federal government to say they want to know what they can do to straighten up the relationship with the federal government. And so we’ve gone far. I may not at this forum, let out a lot, but we give them a lot of conditions (and) they have agreed to all those conditions. What is left now are the timelines to fulfill those conditions.


“Once those timelines come and they fulfill those conditions, Twitter will be back to business in Nigeria. They know exactly what we want. And these are things that are extremely altruistic,” Mr Keyamo said.


He said the social media giant has agreed to pay taxes to the Nigerian government as well as setting up a physical office in Nigeria where users can take their complaints to.


Twitter had earlier stirred a debate in Nigeria when it announced its decision to set up its regional headquarters in Ghana rather than Nigeria where it enjoys more patronage.


It cited “free speech, online freedom, and open internet” among its reasons, something that irked officials of the Nigerian government.

“So, they’ve agreed to taxation, they’ve agreed to open an office in Nigeria so that there can be some, you know, face to face complaints so that we don’t have to be going through algorithms to complain about activities of certain persons who use Twitter to subvert the government of the day.


“There are certain lines that people should not cross when sending out messages, or tweeting things that are capable of tearing us apart. For instance, things are not capable of setting this country on fire, you know, but to use those platforms to promote and propagate some of these ideas,” Mr Keyamo said during the late Sunday night programme.


Mr Keyamo also said that the technical committee set up to interface with Twitter, is currently working on a code of conduct not only to control the mode of engagement on the platform but also on other social media platforms.

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