The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has insisted on the Federal Government’s position that the operations of Twitter must be regulated in Nigeria.
The government on June 4, 2021 announced the indefinite suspension of the American social networking service, alleging that it was being used for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The government announced on Tuesday, June 22 that a six-member committee has been set up to dialogue with Twitter to reach a resolution on the dispute.
Keyamo was named as a member of the committee, headed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Speaking during an interview late on Tuesday, the minister said Twitter must respect Nigeria’s laws and bend to its rules regarding how it can operate in the country.
He accused the social media giant of providing a platform for people to set one region against the other with false stories with the potential to cause deadly conflict.
“Twitter wrote and sought audience with the Federal Government because they’re facing problems all over the world.
“They know that it’s time for them to be regulated,” he said.
The minister also revealed that the committee will have its first preliminary meeting on Wednesday, June 23 to draw up plans for when it meets with Twitter.
Many critics, including foreign governments, have strongly opposed the suspension as a violation of the rights of Nigerians, but the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has doubled down on its position.
The suspension was announced just days after Twitter deleted a tweet from the president’s official account after it was deemed to have violated its rules.
The tweet had been widely reported by Nigerians as harmful after the president appeared to threaten separatist agitators in the south east region with a repeat of the civil war that killed millions between 1967 and 1970.
Mohammed has insisted that Twitter must register as a business in Nigeria – one of many conditions to meet before lifting the suspension.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has also been directed to immediately commence the process of licensing all over-the-top media service and social media operations in the country.
The government’s moves this month have been considered by many as backdoor attempts to finally enforce a social media regulation that Nigerians have been pushing hard against especially under President Buhari.