The Federal Government has insisted that Twitter and other social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, must be registered in the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who said this on Wednesday revealed that following suspension of its activities in Nigeria, Twitter has reached out to the Federal Government seeking high-level discussion to resolve the issue.
He disclosed this to State House correspondents after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, saying that he got the message Wednesday morning.
He insisted that the microblogging platform was suspended because it provided an avenue for people that were 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 Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to use the platform to call for the killing of policemen.
He said Twitter failed to take down Kanu’s tweets despite repeated requests to do so.
Mohammed listed conditions that must be met even if there was a discussion with Twitter including that it must now be registered in Nigeria as a business concern.
Apart from Twitter, he said other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram must be registered in the country.
According to the government spokesman, freedom of speech has not been stifled by the suspension of Twitter as he maintained that Nigerians can still use other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
He also denied that the suspension is not effective, arguing that Twitter is losing money as a result of the action.
The minister stated; “Yes, it is true they’ve made, reached…only this morning I got, you know, communication that yes, they are now ready to hold senior level discussions with us. Just now, I just confirmed with my colleague now. Yes, we just got the information now”.
Asked whether government will hold the discussion with Twitter, he replied: “Why not? We will. But our conditions are already laid out to you. One, to do business in Nigeria, they must register as a Nigerian company. Two, they must be licensed and 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 can come up. We already talked to them.”
The minister narrated why the social media giant was suspended in the country saying: “As you are aware, last Friday, the Federal Government suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria indefinitely, and the reason we gave was because of the persistent use of the Twitter platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
“On Friday, also the government directed the regulatory body, the National Broadcasting Commission, to immediately commence the process of licencing all OTT, Over The Top social media operations in Nigeria.
“And I believe that we’ve done that I think by today, that advert is out asking that all OTT, and social media coverage operating in Nigeria should apply for registration and licensing.
“I want to repeat that is because 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.
“Because, we’ve found out that Twitter is actually the platform of choice for a particular separatist leader who resides outside the country and issues directives to its members to attack symbols of government authority, such as the police, the military, the electoral commission offices, correctional centres, etc. And this is being done willfully and consistently without any consequences from Twitter.
“You know, no country worth its name will tolerate that. And no company, no matter its self-importance will force any nation to accept this.
“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 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 licensed by the broadcasting commission.
“Therefore, any OTT or social media platform operating in Nigeria must do so legally. One, registered with Corporate Affairs Commission, licensed by National Broadcasting Commission and then adhere to the conditions stipulated in their licences.
“We have already advertised the notice to the companies concerned to apply for registration of licence.
“For those that have heard that Oh, the ban is not effective, to the best of my knowledge, I think the ban is very effective.
“Otherwise, how would they be complaining that they are losing billions of naira everyday if the ban is not effective? But that is not the issue.”