After ban, Twitter operates in Nigeria without physical office as FG announced.
From June 5, 2021, to January 13, 2022, the Federal Government of Nigeria restricted the operations of Twitter (which is owned by Twitter Inc.) in Nigeria. The government instituted the ban after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating its rules and community standards. The tweet, which was posted on June 1, 2021, read: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
This was following the spate of attacks on public offices, mainly in South-East Nigeria, which were blamed on regional secessionists, the most popular known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, called Twitter’s actions unfair and labelled it “double standards.” After a few days that the tweet was deleted, the Ministry of Information and Culture announced in a statement that the operations of Twitter in the country have been suspended.
Federal Government made a physical office a requirement for lifting ban.
Three days after the ban, in a report published by NetBlocks, an international internet watchdog, it was announced that the Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter has cost the country 6 billion Naira since the ban came into effect. According to the platform as of then, a single-day total internet outage would cost the country 48.596 billion Naira in economic value, while it would cost the country 10.885 billion per day if WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are all shut down.
In late June 2021, Twitter announced that it would enter talks with the Nigerian government over the ban. The talks eventually began in July 2021. In September 2021, Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, told the press that dialogue with the microblogging site was productive and quite respectful. The government gave some conditions which must be met before the ban would be lifted. The conditions were: respect for national security and cohesion; registration, physical presence and representation in Nigeria; fair taxation; dispute resolution; and local content. However, emphasis was placed on the second condition, which is that Twitter must open an office in Nigeria.
FG announces Twitter has agreed to open Nigerian office in Q1 2022.
A few months after the suspension of Twitter, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, announced that Twitter has agreed to open an office in Nigeria. The minister said that most of the conditions given to the platform have been accepted, including setting up an office in the country. He said, “One of the conditions that we set was that Twitter, in line with Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act, should establish presence in Nigeria with registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).”
Mohammed continued, “We believe that it’s important that Twitter should have a company representative who is high up so that he or she can take complaints directly from Nigeria to Twitter.” In February 2022, the minister announced the Federal Government is expecting Twitter to open its Nigerian office in the first quarter of 2022. He also said that the tech giant had agreed to comply with all payable taxes as they are operating under Nigerian laws.
Eleven months after, Twitter office not in Nigeria.
Nonetheless, eleven months after the Federal Government claimed that it negotiated with Twitter to establish a physical office in Nigeria and eight months after the ban was lifted, Twitter is yet to open the said office in the country. The government lifted the Twitter ban on January 12, 2022, after Twitter agreed to establish a legal entity in the country. A representative of Twitter in Nigeria said that the company has no office yet in the country, contrary to Lai Mohammed’s claim that the tech company will open an office in Nigeria in March.
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