Nigeria Suspends Twitter After President’s Tweet Is Deleted

Nigeria’s government said it suspended Twitter Inc.’s operations indefinitely, two days after the social-media giant deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The ban is due to “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said Friday in a statement that was also posted on Twitter. He ordered the nation’s broadcast commission to compel all so-called over-the-top media services and social-media operations in Nigeria to apply for permits to operate.

Twitter said the announcement by the government is “deeply concerning,” according to an emailed statement. “We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” it said.

Twitter has been embroiled in controversies around the world as governments try to frame their narratives using social media. Earlier this year, it banned former U.S. President Donald Trump for breakings its rule against glorifying violence, while in India it’s clashed with the government over a request to block accounts because of farmer protests over agricultural laws that the state said included misinformation and threats to national security.

In Nigeria, the San Francisco-based company this week took down a tweet by Buhari for violating its rules, after he threatened to crack down on separatists waging a rebellion in the southeast of the country.

Twitter was still online in Nigeria on Friday night and it’s not clear how the government intends to enforce the suspension. The government might order internet service providers to block access, Yele Okeremi, chief executive officer of financial-technology firm Precise Financial Systems, said by phone.

The app is popular with young urban Nigerians, ranking as the sixth-most used social-media platform in the country.

The state’s decision is “bizarre and unconstitutional and should be immediately reversed,” said Clement Nwankwo, director of the Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre. “The suspension exposes Nigeria to national and international ridicule and is unsustainable.”

Twitter has no physical presence in Nigeria, Africa’s most-populous nation. In April, the company announced it’s setting up its African office in the nearby West African nation of Ghana.

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