The Presidency has responded to the suspension of Twitter, saying it was temporary measure, stressed that decision of the Federal Government had nothing to do with deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet referencing the civil war and threatening Southeast trouble makers.
In statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said that Twitter had been used for misinformation and fake news, stressing that the micro-blogging site had escaped sanctions all this while.
It said while removal of Buhari’s tweet was disappointing, the Presidency added that the suspension was based on the fact that Twitter had been fueling of criminal activities.
The statement read in part: “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 had 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 loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.”
Shehu further explained: “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. The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.
“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens. When the President said that they would 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 world over. This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.”