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Nigeria lifts ban on Twitter after seven months

By Calley Hair
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/66474531dd5abc6112ee6758f67ca3a7/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Nigeria lifted its ban on Twitter on Thursday, restoring access to the social media platform for millions of users across West Africa's biggest democracy.

The Nigerian government cracked down on Twitter in June after the platform deleted a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened political dissenters.

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A spokesman for Nigeria's National Information Technology Development Agency said it reinstated Twitter at 12 a.m. Thursday, once Twitter agreed to certain conditions, including establishing an office or legal entity in the country and meeting applicable tax obligations.

"These conditions addressed legal registration of operations, taxation and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws. Twitter has agreed to meet all the conditions," NITDA Director-General Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said in a statement.

The company also agreed to enroll Nigeria in its "Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals," a medium for Twitter staff and government officials to manage content that violates the platform's community rules. The portals will also establish a channel for Nigerian law enforcement agencies to file a formal report if Twitter violates Nigerian law.

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"Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built," Abdullahi said in the statement.

Twitter commended the lifting of the ban Thursday, but didn't acknowledge concessions made to the Nigerian government.

"We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria. Our mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve the public conversation," the company stated.

The deleted tweet from Buhari threatened to retaliate against secessionists in the country's southeast region who had attacked government offices.

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"Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war," Buhari wrote in the post, referring to the Nigerian Civil War that killed more than 600,000 people in the late 1960s. "Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand."

Some read Buhari's tweet as a threat of genocide against the region's Igbo ethnic group, the New York Times reported at the time.

Twitter removed the tweet, citing its "abusive behavior" policy; Nigeria countered by blocking the social media giant and promising to prosecute individuals and companies who sought to get around the ban.

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The move sparked outrage across Nigeria, where Twitter had served as a major outlet for millions of users looking to criticize their government and hold it accountable. The platform was a key organizing tool in 2020's EndSARS campaign, a series of mass protests against police brutality.

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