Egocentric President Muhammadu Buhari angered by the removal of his ‘genocidal’ posts had intended to suspend Facebook and Twitter’s operations in Nigeria, a report by Daily Beast says.
The social media giants removed Mr Buhari’s post threatening recalcitrant Igbo youths with genocide because it violated their policies, following outrage by Nigerians who described his statement as “unpresidential.”
Subsequently, the Buhari regime, through information minister Lai Mohammed announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria on the ground that it was used to spread false information and “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
Many have faulted the suspension saying it violated Nigerians’ rights to freedom of speech and described it as economic albatross.
But a source said the removal of the president’s posts on the social media platforms was “embarrassing,” hence the suspension of Twitter.
According to the source, the president planned to shut down Facebook in the country as well, but his aides advised against it to not seem that it was in reaction to the deleted posts.
“He was furious and wanted to deal with both Twitter and Facebook. The action [the social media companies] took was embarrassing to the president,” the media outlet quoted the official in the president’s office to have said.
“The action taken by Facebook ultimately triggered the ban on Twitter even though Facebook wasn’t affected, things could change in the near future,” another official was quoted to have said.
Attorney General Abubakar Malami also sought to enforce the ban by threatening to arrest and prosecute anyone who tweets in Nigeria, as many use VPN to bypass the blockage. The order came three days after Peoples Gazette published a secret memo of Mr Malami advising Mr Buhari to suspend the Nigerian Constitution and declare martial law to stem rising insecurity.
Daily Beast further stated in its report that Mr Buhari’s action indicated that the “Nigerian leader will do anything in his power to satisfy his ego. Even if it means restricting access to a platform many rely on financially, in a country with a 33 per cent unemployment rate—the second highest in the world.”
Meanwhile, critics and the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives condemned the regime’s action in a statement, describing it as a violation of human rights.
Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu on Saturday said, “Our caucus rejects this thoughtless decision of the federal government.” It noted that suspending Twitter “amounts to a clampdown and a direct infringement on the rights of Nigerians to free speech as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Similarly, Nigerian human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome in a statement on Sunday, said using Twitter is not a “known crime or written offence.” He argued that the National Assembly had not enacted any law banning the use of social media, including Twitter.
“This government must be ready to build thousands of prisons across all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria so as to accommodate the deluge of ‘erring’ Nigerians,” Mr Ozekhome added.