By Adedapo Adesanya
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has insisted that the suspension of operations of Twitter in Nigeria was not because it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said it was unfair for people to conclude that the suspension of Twitter in the country was because of the deletion, noting that the government has the right to determine when and where to make a pronouncement on policy and action affecting the corporate existence of the country.
Last Friday, the federal government, through the Minister, banned the microblogging and social networking website, alleging that it was becoming a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Mr Mohammed, while speaking on Friday on Good Morning Nigeria, a programme aired on the state-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), pointed accusatory fingers at Twitter for the violent aftermath of the #EndSARS protests that rocked the country last year.
According to Mr Mohammed, the mission of Twitter and its founder, Mr Jack Dorsey, was suspect, alleging that he sponsored the EndSARS protest which almost destabilised the country and led to the death of many, including the destruction of public and private property.
He said when he asserted that Twitter funded the EndSARS protest, his position was corroborated by the fact checks made by an online media outfit, The Cable Newspaper.
“The online media concluded that on October 14, 2020, Dorsey actually retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalitions supporting the EndSARS protest.
“On the same day, he launched fundraising asking people to donate via Bitcoins.
“On October 16, 2020, Dorsey launched another emoji to make the EndSARS protest visible on the microblogging site.
“On October 20, 2020, he retweeted the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of EndSARS,’’ he said.
Basing his judgement on the piece from the newspaper medium, he noted that the Twitter CEO solicited donations to support EndSARS.
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters, then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest.
“We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisations were looted while 243 public property were looted.
“81 warehouses were looted and we are now saying we don’t have a reason to ban Twitter,’’ he said.
He did not stop there as he asserted that Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the estranged leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), believed to be resident in Europe, uses the platform to direct his supporters to attack policemen, military men, barracks and INEC offices among others.
“Before its suspension, we made several pleas to them to remove the tweets where Nigeria is described as a zoo where all of us are described as monkeys.
“We also pleaded to Twitter to delete the tweet where he said that if a Nigerian soldier enters into Biafra, it is death,” he said.
“Twitter, however, said that those tweets did not offend their own rules.
“It gets out of hand when attacks on police and military formations, police and army officers became unabated and we said at this point, we will need to suspend their operations,” he said.