Lagos – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said he had ordered the country’s ban on Twitter to be lifted once the social media giant has met conditions set by his government.
Nigeria banned Twitter in June, days after the platform deleted a remark from Buhari’s account, provoking outcry over freedom of expression in Africa’s most-populous country.
Nigerian officials defended the ban saying Twitter was used to promote fake news and for destabilising activities, especially by separatists in the southeast.
Buhari’s government and Twitter have been in talks over a list of conditions for ending the suspension, including discussions on taxes, content, and registering locally in Nigeria.
“The issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted, but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens to continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements,” Buhari said in a speech marking Nigeria’s independence day.
A spokesperson for US-based Twitter said in a statement that discussions were ongoing to find a way to restore operations in Nigeria.
“Discussions with the Nigerian government have been respectful and productive –- we look forward to seeing the service restored very soon.”
The UN, EU, US and Britain were among those who joined rights groups to internationally condemn the ban as damaging to freedom of expression.
The ban was also a shock to many in Nigeria where Twitter has played a role for activists from the #BringBackOurGirls movement after Boko Haram jihadists kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014 to the #EndSARS protests over anti-police brutality last year.
The ban decision came just two days after the platform deleted a tweet from Buhari’s own account for violating its rules.
He referenced Nigeria’s civil war five decades ago when one million people died, in the context of a warning to those responsible for recent unrest in the country’s southeast.
Nigeria had complained that Twitter failed to delete violent remarks made by a separatist leader whose IPOB group agitates for a breakaway state for ethnic Igbo people in the southeast.
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