Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Nigeria lifted its ban on Twitter after the social media company agreed to open an office there and to meet other conditions set by authorities in Africa’s most populous country.

The turnaround comes seven months since Abuja ordered telecommunications providers to block Twitter after the company removed a post by President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened a violent repression of secretaries in the southeast. The ban will be lifted from Thursday.

“Twitter has agreed to act with respectful recognition of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation is built and to work with the FGN. [federal government of Nigeria] and the broader industry to develop a code of conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries, ”said Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, head of the National Information Technology Development Agency, in a statement.

In addition to opening a local office, Twitter has agreed to appoint a governor and pay local taxes.

In June, the government said it had banned Twitter because of the “continued use of the platform for activities that could undermine Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

Buhari, a 79-year-old former military dictator, is accused by local activists of closing down civilian space in Nigeria since he was first democratically elected in 2015.

The Twitter ban came eight months after protests against police brutality swept the country of 200 million people under the #EndSARS hashtag. The demonstrations went viral on the platform. Jack Dorsey, then CEO of Twitter, tweeted his support with the hat brand.

Twitter is only used by a small percentage of Nigerians, but is popular with activists, journalists and politicians.

Diplomats from the EU, the UK, Ireland, Norway and Canada criticized the ban in a joint statement. The US Embassy in Nigeria said it “undermines Nigerians’ ability to exercise freedom of expression” and “sends a bad message to its citizens, investors and businesses”.

Nigerians, including opposition politicians, have circumvented the ban by using VPN [virtual private network] services. Members of the government used the platform when they were abroad.

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