October 26, 2021

TrustTV

documenting the nigerian story…

Twitter escaped accountability for long, presidency defends ban

The Presidency has defended the ban on Twitter, saying the company escaped accountability “for a while”.

In a statement on Saturday, Malam Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman, said the Buhari administration will not allow tech companies to tear Nigeria apart.

He debunked the allegation that the Federal Government moved against Twitter because it yanked off President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet on Civil War.

“The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post.

“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real-world violent consequences.

“All the while, the company has escaped accountability.”

“Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.

“The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said, “the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.”

“This and similar crimes which have been fueled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.

“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to the loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.

“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.”

Shehu, who said it appears as if Twitter does not understand the trauma of Nigeria’s civil war, said Buhari did not issue any threat to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the tweet which the microblogging site found offensive.

“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens. When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand’, he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response the world over.”

“This is not a promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire.

“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”