The Nigerian government has ordered federal prosecutors to arrest and prosecute users of the Twitter app in the country after a blanket ban on the social media company went into effect on Friday.
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, issued the directive Saturday in a statement signed on his behalf by his spokesman, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu reports CNN.
“Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria,” the new directive reads.
Nigeria’s media and communications regulator, the NCC, and the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy have been ordered to collaborate with prosecutors in order to “…ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay.”
Nigeria Bans Twitter
On a cold Friday evening, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and Culture announced that Twitter operations in the country, including the usage of the app and website, were “indefinitely suspended”.
The announcement came two days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had a controversial tweet deleted by the social media service. The tweet in question was flagged as offensive by users and threatened violence against Nigerians living in the southeast of the country.
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” Buhari wrote in the now-deleted tweet
Twitter deleted the tweet Wednesday after it was flagged as offensive by users. The company was criticized by Information Minister Lai Mohammed for having “double standards” after deleting the tweet.
Twitter Users React
Since the announcement, many users have virtually disapproved of the decision to ban Twitter – believing the decision to ban the service is an attack on freedom of speech in the country.
Twitter really hit buhari way below the belt .
Buhari and his gestapo government want to silence Nigerians and freedom of speech, it will not work.
— The Priory of Sion 🇺🇸 🇳🇬 (@timi_wakanda) June 4, 2021
The Federal Government wants to suspend Twitter in Nigeria but uses the same twitter platform to make the announcement? Isn't this s!lly? The FG is just pissed they can't dictate what happens on twitter, anything this shameless govt can't control or manipulate, they try to ban.
— Daniel Regha (@DanielRegha) June 4, 2021
we use twitter to access information easily, you cannot wake up one morning and suspend its activity in the country, the president clearly violated their terms of operations with his tweet so it deserves to be deleted.
— Zoe 🇳🇬 (@okezoe_) June 4, 2021
Banning @Twitter violates S. 22 & 39 of the 1999 Constitution. Twitter seems to be the only medium through which we hold the reckless regime of Buhari responsible. We will resist the attempts to ban Twitter in Nigeria.
— FESTUS OGUN (@mrfestusogun) June 4, 2021
Twitter has a vibrant Nigerian community that have enjoyed and contributed to the discourse. It’s a shame that their voices will no longer be heard on the app. Nigerian users living outside of the country seem to be keen to continue disapproving of this turn of events.
Nigerian users who wish to continue to use the service can do so through a VPN, which have become popular in recent times, though they do so at their own risk.