The Nigerian government has lifted the suspension of Twitter operations more than six months after it first announced a crackdown on the country’s social media giant.
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General of the Nigerian Technology Agency, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), made the announcement via a statement today. He was assigned, as chair of the commission (Nigerian Technical Commission – Sharing on Twitter) set up by the Nigerian government to oversee talks between the West African country and Twitter after the ban.
The board chairman said the approval came after a memo written by the country’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to President Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also revealed that the ban will be lifted immediately by midnight on January 13, 2022.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has agreed to lift the suspension of the operation of Twitter in Nigeria with effect from 12 am tonight, January 13, 2022,” the statement read.
The approval came after a memo written by His Excellency the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Issa Ali Ibrahim, to the President. In the memo, the Minister updated and requested the President’s approval of the lift on the recommendation of the Nigeria Technical Committee – Twitter Engagement”.
Abdullah also noted in the statement that Twitter had agreed to designate a “legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022.” According to the statement, the creation of Twitter’s legal entity is “the social media giant’s first step in demonstrating its long-standing commitment to Nigeria.”
Nigeria said this was one of three requests, out of ten, that Twitter, which established its first African presence in Ghana last April, had failed to meet the reinstatement of the company’s operations in the country after months of ban. This was announced by Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, last August.
In addition to setting up a local office or legal entity in the country, other unanswered requests have been paying taxes locally and cooperating with the Nigerian government to regulate harmful content and tweets.
The Nigerian government appears to have made some progress with these requests. According to the statement from the government, Twitter will also appoint a “designated country representative” to hold talks with the Nigerian government when needed.
There’s more: “Twitter has agreed to comply with the tax obligations applicable to its operations under Nigerian law. Twitter has agreed to register Nigeria in its partner support and law enforcement portals.”
The portals will act as an intermediary for Twitter and Nigeria employees to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules and Nigerian law enforcement agencies to report if Twitter is in conflict with Nigerian laws.
“Twitter has agreed to act with respect for the Nigerian laws, national culture and history upon which such legislation is built and to work with FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practice, applicable in nearly all developed countries,” Abdullah said via part of the statement.
In June, Nigeria suspended Twitter after the company deleted a controversial post by the Nigerian president threatening to punish regional separatists. Mohamed, who made the announcement, cited the platform’s continued use of “activities that could undermine the presence of businesses in Nigeria” as the main reason behind the retaliation.
Over the next few months, calls were made by several individuals and corporate bodies to restart the platform while others, such as former US President Donald Trump, praised the move.
In October, President Buhari, during his televised presidential address on the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, said the ban would only be lifted if the social media giant met certain conditions. And in a statement emailed to TechCrunch, Twitter, via a spokesperson, said discussions with the Nigerian government have been respectful and productive “as they look forward to ‘seeing the service restored very soon'”.
Three months later, the two seem to have reached an agreement. TechCrunch has reached out to Twitter for comment and confirmation that the company meets the stated conditions. However, we did not receive any time for the press.
Update: TechCrunch can confirm that Twitter plans to establish a legal entity in Nigeria and comply with applicable tax obligations, just as the Nigerian government stated today. We understand that Twitter is doing this to allow account holders in Nigeria to continue to communicate and have public conversations on the social media platform.
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