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Twitter ban to end ‘very soon,’ FG says

The Federal Government on Wednesday said that it was ‘very close’ to resolving the disagreement that led to the ban of the operation of microblogging site Twitter in Nigeria.

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The Federal Government had on June 5 put an indefinite ban on Twitter restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari warning the people of the South East of a potential repeat of the 1967 Biafran Civil War due to the security crisis on that rejoin.

The Nigerian government claimed that the deletion of the president’s tweets factored into their decision but it was ultimately based on a ‘litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real-world violent consequences.’

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The ban, which attracted condemnations from various quarters, including Amnesty International, British and Canadian missions and the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria as well as Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Nigerian Bar Association, is said to cost Nigeria $250,000 (N102.5 million), each hour of the suspension bringing the daily loss to N2.46 billion according to NetBlocks.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who had on August 11 assured that the Twitter ban would be lifted soon, restated his assurance on Wednesday.

He had at the August briefing stated that some of the conditions made by the Federal Government for Twitter operations to resume in Nigeria included that Twitter should establish a legal presence in the country, register as a Nigerian company with an address.

Mohammed, who was asked to give an update on the Twitter ban in Nigeria and the interface with the company told State House Correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC), meeting presided over by President Buhari said, “Thank you very much. I think even Twitter itself two days ago gave what I will call a progress report on our talks with them. And I think if I want to quote them rightly, it has been productive and quite respectful.

‘And as to how soon is soon, right? I want to assure you that between the time that the Twitter operation has been suspended and when it will be restored is by far, much, much shorter. In other words, if the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell you that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now.

‘What we’re trying to do is the changes that have been going on, but we need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, but I can assure us that we’re not mindful of the anxiety of Nigerians and both parties are working very hard to put a closure on the matter.

‘And like Twitter itself said the changes have been very, very productive on both parties. It has not been advisory at all. And it’s quite respectful.’

Asked further to be specific on when the matter would be resolved, he said: ‘Honestly, we have gone very far, I won’t be specific but we have gone very far, and honestly, it’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that.’

Further pressed to be specific, he said: ‘Honesty, I can’t be more specific than what I’ve told you that it is going to be very soon. Thank you.’

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