Millions of Nigerians were not able to access Twitter Saturday following the government enforced an indefinite suspension of the microblogging system’s operations in Nigeria.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria said in a statement that its members possess suspended accessibility to Twitter in compliance with a government directive to do so.
The Nigeria government said Friday that it was indefinitely suspending Twitter in Africa’s most populous country, after the company deleted a contentious 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 has criticized Twitter for deleting the post stating:”The assignment of Twitter in Nigeria is quite suspicious,” adding that Twitter had previously ignored inciting tweets from the Nigerian authorities.
Twitter had deleted Buhari’s post on Wednesday after the president threatened suspected militants in the southeast, 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.
The government’s decision to suspend Twitter is being widely condemned. Amnesty International said it condemns the Nigerian government’s suspension of a social media widely used by Nigerians to exercise their human rights including their rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights,” Amnesty said in a statement.