The giant’s suspension on social media has hurt Nigerian businesses and provoked widespread condemnation due to its detrimental effect on freedom of expression.
The Nigerian government has said it will end its Twitter ban after a few ‘days’, raising hopes among users eager to return to the social media platform three months after the suspension took effect .
The ban, announced in June, has hurt Nigerian businesses and provoked reaction on social media users and human rights activists due to its detrimental effect on freedom of expression and the ease of doing business in the most populous country in Africa.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed said during a post-cabinet press conference on Wednesday that the government was aware of the anxiety caused by the ban among Nigerians.
“If the operation has now been suspended for about 100 days, I can tell you that we are actually just about a few, just a few days away,” says Mohammed, without giving a time frame.
When pushed further, Mohammed said authorities and Twitter officials “must get the I’s and cross the T’s” before reaching a final agreement.
“It’s going to be very soon, just take my word for it,” he said.
The government suspended Twitter began June after the company removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists, who according to the giant on social media violated its rules. The Nigerian Attorney General further said that those who contradicted the ban should be prosecuted.
In response, dozens of Nigerians and a local rights group have filed a lawsuit in a regional court seeking to lift the government’s ban on Twitter, describing the decision to suspend the hugely popular social media platform as a attempt to silence criticism.
At the time of the suspension, Mohammed said the government had acted due to “the continued use of the platform for activities that could undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria”.
It was a peak of months of tension. Twitter bosses Jack Dorsey’s postings encouraging donations to encourage police brutality protests in October last year and Twitter posts by Nnamdi Kanu, a Biafran separatist leader currently on trial in Abuja, are angering authorities.
Last month, Mohammed told Reuters that the Twitter ban would be removed before the end of this year, adding that the government is waiting for a response to three last requests from the social media platform.
The ban is only a source of concern for free speech advocates. Nigeria dropped five places, to 120, in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, which describes Nigeria as one of the “most dangerous and difficult” countries in West Africa for journalists.