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.