Nigerian government-enforced Twitter suspension takes effect

FILE - In this April 26, 2017, file photo is a Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Millions of Nigerians were unable to access Twitter after the government enforced an indefinite suspension of the microblogging platforms operations in Nigeria. The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria said in a statement Saturday, June 5, 2021, that its members have suspended access to Twitter in compliance with a government directive to do so. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this April 26, 2017, file photo is a Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Millions of Nigerians were unable to access Twitter after the government enforced an indefinite suspension of the microblogging platforms operations in Nigeria. The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria said in a statement Saturday, June 5, 2021, that its members have suspended access to Twitter in compliance with a government directive to do so. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LAGOS – Millions of Nigerians were unable to access Twitter Saturday after the government enforced an indefinite suspension of the microblogging platform’s operations in Nigeria.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria said in a statement that its members have suspended access to Twitter in compliance with a government directive to do so.

The Nigeria government said Friday it was indefinitely suspending Twitter in Africa’s most populous nation, after the company deleted a controversial tweet President Muhammadu Buhari made about a secessionist movement.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said Friday that government officials decided to suspend Twitter because the platform was being used “for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Mohammed criticized Twitter for deleting the post, saying, “The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious,” and that Twitter had in the past ignored inciting tweets against the Nigerian government.

In recent months, pro-Biafra separatists have been accused of attacking police and government buildings. In his tweet, Buhari vowed to “treat them in the language they understand.”

Twitter had deleted Buhari’s post on Wednesday, calling it abusive.

More than 1 million people died during the 1967-1970 civil war that erupted when secessionists from the southeast sought to create an independent Biafra for the ethnic Igbo people. Buhari, an ethnic Fulani, was on the opposing side in the war against the Igbos.