Nigeria lifts ban on Twitter, says the social media giant has met conditions

·4-min read

The Nigerian government has lifted the suspension of Twitter operations more than six months after it first declared a crackdown on the social media giant in the country.

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the director-general of Nigeria’s tech agency, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), made this announcement via a statement today. He was put in charge, as chairman, of the committee (Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement) set up by the Nigerian government to oversee talks between the West African nation and Twitter after the ban.

The chairman said the approval was given following a memo written by the country’s minister of communications and digital economy to the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also revealed that the ban would be lifted immediately by midnight WAT, January 13, 2022.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 am tonight, 13th January 2022,” the statement read.

“The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim. In the Memo, the minister updated and requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.”

Abdullahi also noted in the statement that Twitter has agreed to set “a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022.” The establishment of Twitter’s legal entity, according to the statement, is the social media giant’s “first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.”

It was one of the three requests, out of ten, Nigeria said Twitter, which established its first African presence in Ghana last April, had failed to meet to reinstate the company’s operations in the country months after the ban. The announcement was made by Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed last August.

In addition to setting up a local office or a legal entity in the country, the other unanswered requests were paying taxes locally and cooperating with the Nigerian government to regulate content and harmful tweets.

It seems the Nigerian government has made some headway with those requests. According to the statement released by the government, Twitter will also appoint a “designated country representative” to hold talks with the Nigerian government when required.

There’s more: “Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law. Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals,” the statement read.

The portals will serve as a medium for Twitter staff and Nigeria to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules and Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies to present a report if Twitter goes against Nigerian laws.

“Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries,” Abdullahi made this known via a section of the statement.

In June, Nigeria suspended Twitter after the company deleted a controversial post made by the Nigerian president threatening to punish regional secessionists. Mohammed, who made the announcement, cited the persistent use of the platform for “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the main reason behind the retaliation.

Over the next few months, calls were made by several individuals and corporate bodies to reinstate the platform’s operations while others, like former U.S. President Donald Trump, praised the move.

In October, President Buhari, during his televised presidential speech on Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day anniversary, said the ban would only be lifted if the social media giant met certain conditions. And in a corresponding emailed statement to TechCrunch, Twitter, via a spokesperson, said discussions with the Nigerian government had been respectful and productive” as it looked forward to “seeing the service restored very soon.”

Three months on, it appears both parties have reached an agreement. TechCrunch reached out to Twitter for comment and to confirm if the company met said conditions. However, we have not received any press time.

Update: TechCrunch can confirm that Twitter plans to establish a legal entity in Nigeria and comply with applicable tax obligations, just as the Nigerian government stated today. We understand that Twitter is doing so to allow account holders in Nigeria to continue to engage with and have public conversations on the social media platform.

There’s more in this tweet from its public policy handle.

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