Nigeria is just a few days from lifting its Twitter ban three months after the social media platform was suspended. The country’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the government was aware of the anxiety among citizens since the ban.
The announcement has raised hope among Nigerians eager to get back on the hugely popular platform. The government has attracted backlash after businesses were hurt due to the ban. Human rights activists have also called out the government on the damaging effects the ban has on freedom of expression.
“If the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell you that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now,” Mohammed said,.
Addressing the media after a Cabinet briefing, Mohammed said authorities and Twitter officials had to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” before reaching a final agreement.
“It’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that,” he said.
Nigeria suspended Twitter after the social network removed a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari. Following the ban, a number of internet providers blocked Twitter access to users.
Twitter had written to the Nigerian President seeking dialogue after the network was suspended. The president put together a team to lead in the reconciliatory discussion.
The Nigerian government set a condition requiring Twitter to register formally in the country before being allowed to operate. According to Mohammed, Twitter was planning to set up a regional office in the neighbouring Ghana, even though Nigeria was their target market.
He said Twitter had agreed to this but was saying it could not do so until 2022.
Mohammed had cited Twitter as one of the social networks that had enabled disunity by allowing inflammatory posts.
“We recently met with the Nigerian government to discuss why Twitter has been blocked and ways to resolve the matter. Our aim is to chart a path forward to the restoration of Twitter for everyone in Nigeria. We look forward to ongoing discussions with the Nigerian government and seeing the service restored very soon.” A Twitter spokesperson said at the time.
A section of members of the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Information, Justice, and Communication had said that the move was meant to stifle free speech. They criticized the ban, saying the country was taking a step towards autocracy.