Nigeria Threatens to Arrest & Prosecute Users Avoiding Twitter Ban

Image sourced from Mfidie.com.

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 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.

By Luis Monzon
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