Lai: Any social media platform used to bring down Nigeria will be suspended

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Says Twitter Gave IPOB Platform To Promote Violence

The federal government says it will not hesitate to suspend any social media platform, which allows activities that have a negative impact on the country.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared before a house of representatives investigative panel.

He was summoned by the green chamber to explain the circumstances behind the decision of the government to suspend Twitter’s operations in the country.

Speaking before the house committees on communication, justice, information and culture, and national security and intelligence, Mohammed said Twitter became a platform for those who want to “bring down” the country.

He said the government would also suspend any platform that wants to toe the same path as the microblogging site.

“On Twitter not being the only social media in Nigeria but banning Twitter alone, honestly, we suspended Twitter because Twitter became a platform of choice for those that want to bring down this country,” he said.

“If any other platform does it, we will suspend their operations too. It is because there is a country called Nigeria that they have business here.

“Honestly, I think it is a good opportunity for our very resourceful Nigerians to also look at how they can have an app that can replace Twitter, and it would be patronised by all of us. We have received a few approaches and we want to encourage them.”

The minister said for those whose businesses are affected by the Twitter suspension, there are other social media platforms operating in the country.

He said the government is open to discussion with Twitter and its suspension may be reversed after meeting the conditions imposed by the government.

“Like I have said, we owe no responsibility to Twitter. It is not registered in Nigeria. It does not employ Nigerians. It does not pay taxes to Nigeria,” he said.

“If Nigerians do make money through Twitter, unfortunately, Nigeria has to be a country first before they can make that money. Like I said, there are other platforms available to them. Hopefully, if we are able to resolve this matter quickly, they will resume use of Twitter.

“The doors are not closed. We are willing to speak to Twitter. Twitter has written a letter seeking for government dialogue and just today, I did issue a statement which I announced the government’s team that is ready to meet Twitter,” he said.

“When I leave here, I intend to see whether we can have a preliminary meeting of that committee. We hope that the committee will be able to meet first and that the committee would have a good dialogue with Twitter.

“But like we said, there are two basic things that Twitter or any OTT or social media needs to do — they must first be registered as a Nigerian company after which they will apply for licence. Other conditions will come up as we go along.”

Twitter Gave IPOB Platform To Promote Violence, Lai Mohammed Tells Reps

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused social media giant Twitter of providing a platform for secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to promote violence in the country.

He made the allegation on Tuesday in his presentation before members of the House Representatives Joint Committee on the suspension of Twitter at the National Assembly in Abuja.

“The decision of the Federal Government to ban the activities of Twitter for being a national security threat is well-founded in law in light of the fact that the platform affords IPOB, an organisation already proscribed by the Federal High Court, to champion its seditious and terrorist-based activities,” the minister said.

Twitter had deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2, while the Nigerian government suspended the social media giant days later.

Amid the widespread criticism that trailed the action of the government, some prominent political and religious leaders insisted that they would not stop using Twitter despite the threat to sanction them.

Appearing before the lawmakers, Mohammed stated that the social media giant was suspended because it allowed activities on its platform which he claimed promoted destabilisation of Nigeria, especially by separatist groups.

He disclosed that the government has resolved that all social media platforms must register as Nigerian companies and pay taxes before they can be allowed to operate in the country.

The minister stressed that the move was not to stifle free speech or gag the media in any way, saying it was done in accordance with the law.

He also alleged that Twitter played an unsavoury role during the EndSARS protest as it used its platform to raise funds for the protesters.

According to Mohammed, Section 78 (1) of the CAMA Law 2020, states that a foreign company cannot operate in Nigeria unless it first registers and the government is empowered to defend Nigeria’s cyberspace, including social media.

Responding to questions on the impact of the suspension on businesses, he advised Nigerians to use other platforms for their online businesses.

The minister insisted that individual interest would not take precedence over national security, stressing that the ban was legal.

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