ABUJA — The federal government has directed all broadcast service providers and social media platforms operating within the Nigerian space to apply and obtain a license for their services.
Nigeria had banned Twitter in the country and also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction any agency that flouted the directive.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, said platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others must now be registered in Nigeria.
He revealed this to State House reporters after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, explained Twitter had also reached out to the government seeking high-level discussions to resolve the issue.
The decision for the recent action might not be unconnected with the stalemate between Nigeria and the American microblogging and social networking service, Twitter.
Lai Mohammed said freedom of speech had not been stifled by the suspension of Twitter as Nigerians could still use other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
The minister stressed that the microblogging platform was suspended because it provided an avenue for people threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria.
According to him, the owner of Twitter helped to fund the recent #EndSARS protest while allowing the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to use the platform to call for the killing of policemen.
Lai said Twitter failed to take down Kanu’s tweets despite repeated requests to do so.
He dismissed the notion that the suspension of Twitter was not effective, wondering why the microblogging platform was losing money as a result of the action taken by Nigeria.
“They (Twitter) are now ready to hold senior-level discussions with us… I just confirmed this with my colleague. We just got the information.”
Asked whether the government will hold the discussions, he said: “Why not? We will; our conditions are already laid out to you: one, to do business in Nigeria, they must register as a Nigerian company. Two, you must be licensed. Three, they will have to refrain from using the platform for activities that are inimical to the growth of Nigeria; to the corporate existence of Nigeria. From there, any other issue will come in. We have already talked to them.”
“I want to repeat that Twitter has consistently made its platform available to those who are threatening Nigeria’s corporate existence. That is the reason for suspending their operations in Nigeria.”
“It may interest you to know that most of the OTT and social media platforms operating in Nigeria do not have any office in Nigeria and do not pay taxes to the Nigerian government for the billions they earn here. That is not the best practice globally, and that is why we are insisting that for you to operate in Nigeria you must first be a Nigerian company and be licenced by the broadcasting commission.”
“We have already advertised the notice to the companies concerned to apply for registration of licence.” He added
The Minister accused the founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, of funding the #EndSARS protest, citing the fact-check done by an online newspaper.
“So, whether he donated money himself or helped to raise money, the Twitter owner is one of those who helped to fund the #EndSARS protest that was later hijacked leading to loss of lives and massive destruction of property.
“Like I said last Wednesday, you can see from the fact-check, the role of Jack Dossy is suspect. His interest in Nigeria is inimical to our growth. Our decision to suspend Twitter has been lauded by some, it has been decried by some. But we want to make it clear that what is important to us is the sovereignty of Nigeria.
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