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Excitements as FG lifts suspension on Twitter

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public

that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the

suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th

January 2022. The approval was given following a memo written to the

President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital

Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim. In the Memo, the Minister updates and

requests the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical

Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.

2.

You may recall that on 5th June 2021, the FGN suspended the operation

of Twitter through an announcement made by the Honourable Minister of

Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed. Thereafter, the President

constituted a seven-man Presidential Committee to engage Twitter Inc.

Subsequently, in its wisdom, the Presidential Committee set a 20-member

Technical Committee comprising all relevant government agencies. The

Technical Committee engaged and worked directly with the Twitter team.

The immediate and remote cause of the suspension was the unceasing

use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes

and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along

tribal and religious lines, among others. These issues bordering on National

Security, Cohesion and the effects of the abuse of the Twitter platform forced

the FGN to suspend the operation of Twitter to address the direct and collateral

issues around its operations in Nigeria.

4.

The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators wield

enormous influence over the fabric of our society, social interaction and

economic choices. These platforms can be used as either a tool or a weapon.

Every nation is grappling with how to balance its usage efficiently. Without

balancing, every citizen’s

security, privacy, social well-being, and development are at stake. Therefore, our action is a deliberate attempt to

recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual

benefits for our nation without jeopardising the justified interests of the

Company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful.

5.

The process of resolving this impasse between the FGN and Twitter Inc.

has helped lay a foundation for a mutually beneficial future with endless

possibilities. Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians ranging from

young innovators to public sector officials who find it helpful to engage their

audience. Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop

more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria. Furthermore, the

FGN looks forward to providing a conducive environment for Twitter and other

global tech companies to achieve their potential and be sustainably profitable

in Nigeria.

6.

While appreciating all Nigerians, especially the vibrant Nigerian youths

who have borne with the long wait to resolve this impasse, the FGN is happy

to say that the gains made from this shared national sacrifice are

immeasurable. Some of the gains include:

  1. a) Ongoing economic and training opportunities as the Company continues

to consider expanding its presence in Nigeria;

  1. b) Getting a better understanding of how to use the Twitter platform

effectively to improve businesses;

  1. c) Revenue generation from the operation of Twitter in Nigeria;
  2. d) Smooth and coordinated relationship between Nigerian Government

and Twitter leading to mutual trust;

  1. e) Reduction of cybercriminal activities such as terrorism, cyberstalking,

hate speech, etc.; and

  1. f) Working with Twitter and other global companies to build an acceptable

code of conduct following the global best practice. 7.

The FGN has asked Twitter to fulfil some conditions before restoring its

services. These conditions addressed legal registration of operations, taxation,

and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws. Twitter has

agreed to meet all the conditions set by the FGN. Consequently, the FGN and

Twitter have decided on an execution timeline, which has started this week.

Our engagement with Twitter opens a new chapter in global digital diplomacy

and sets a new operational template for Twitter to come back stronger for the

benefit of Nigerians.

The following are the resolutions agreed with Twitter. Inc.:

i.

Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the

first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate

Affairs Commission (CAC). The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s

first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.

ii.

Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to

interface with Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also

directly available through a dedicated communication channel.

iii.

Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its

operations under Nigerian law.

iv.

Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law

Enforcement Portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct

channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited

content that violates Twitter community rules. At the same time, the

Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement

agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects

that content violates Nigerian Laws. Taken together, these represent a

comprehensive compliance apparatus.

v.

Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian

laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has

been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost

all developed countries.

8.

Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in

Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022. We encourage all users of the

Twitter platform to maintain ethical behaviour and refrain from promoting

divisive, dangerous, and distasteful information on the platform. As patriotic

citizens, we need to be mindful that anything illegal offline is also illegal online

and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is

synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction.

9.

Considering Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the

very fabric of our corporate existence as a Nation, our priority is to adapt, not

ban, Twitter. The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do anything

possible to help Nigerians align and navigate Twitter algorithmic design to

realise its potentials while avoiding its perils.

10.

In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee

led by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai

Mohammed, for the supervisory role and guidance given to the Technical

Committee during the engagement. Similarly, the Presidential Committee

commends the Technical Committee for a professional, robust and productive

engagement with Twitter Inc. It also appreciates Government Regulatory

Agencies and Internet Service Providers who implemented the FGN’s

directives during the suspension.