Nigeria Condemns Twitter for Deleting President Buhari’s Tweet

The Nigerian government condemned Twitter Inc. for deleting a tweet in which the country’s leader threatened to crackdown on separatists.

The social media giant’s actions are “suspect,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed told journalists in the capital, Abuja, Tuesday. President Muhammadu Buhari has “the right to express dismay and anger” about recent attacks targeting security agents in southeastern Nigeria, he said. Twitter took down Buhari’s tweet for violating its rules.

Twitter didn’t delete “violent tweets” by the leader of a secessionist movement, Mohammed said. Nnamdi Kanu has sought to revive a 1960s bid to create an independent state of Biafra, an uprising that sparked a civil war in which more than a million people died.

Nigeria is plagued by insecurity on multiple fronts and Buhari’s administration has failed to contain a growing separatist campaign that’s been held responsible for attacks on police stations and other state targets in southeastern Nigeria. Meanwhile, a battle against an Islamist insurgency in the country’s northeast has dragged on for more than a decade and claimed thousands of lives.

Threat of Violence

Buhari’s deleted tweet looked to be threatening to use the civil war-like force against people in southeast. The offending comments said those who fought in the three-year civil war, which included the 78-year-old head of state, will treat those “misbehaving” today “in the language they understand.” Nigerians on social media widely interpreted the comment as a threat of violence.

The militant wing of Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra, created last December to provide protection to farmers and other residents in the southeast, has been blamed by the police for the spike in violence in the region. The government declared IPOB a terrorist group in 2017.

“It is not acceptable anywhere in the world for anybody, anywhere, to stay in the comfort of wherever he is and now give directives to go and kill soldiers, go and kill policemen,” Mohammed said, referring to Kanu’s tweets.

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