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Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari deactivates Twitter account

Saturday June 05 2021
Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari , Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari

This file photo taken on May 29, 2015 shows Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari arriving with his wife Aisha, before taking oath of office at the Eagles Square in Abuja.

By Mohammed Momoh

Abuja.Despite outrage over Nigeria’s suspension of microblogging site, Twitter, for deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, First Lady Aisha has deactivated her account.

Her action late on Friday came after Twitter said it was ”deeply concerned” over its suspension in Nigeria.

“The announcement made by the Nigerian government on Twitter’s operations in Nigeria is deeply concerning. We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” Sarah Hart, Twitter’s senior policy communications manager for Europe, Middle East & Africa, said in a tweet.

The Nigerian leader, who fought in the civil war, on Tuesday threatened to be resolute against separatists who have been attacking facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), killing security personnel and destroying critical infrastructure in the South East. 

President Buhari, in his response to the INEC’s brief, said: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

He also posted the statement on his Twitter page but it was pulled down after many petitioned Twitter.

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Facebook on Friday also deleted President Buhari’s post on the 1967-1970 civil war.

“In line with our global policies, we’ve removed a post from President Buhari’s Facebook page for violating our Community Standards against inciting violence. We remove any content from individuals or organisations that violates our policies on Facebook,” the platform explained.


Nigeria's reasons

In solidarity with Nigeria, the account of the First Lady, @aishambuhari, opened in 2016 and with one million followers, was deactivated late on Friday after Nigeria’s Information and culture minister, Lai Mohammed, announced Twitter’s indefinite suspension.

Mr Mohammed announced Twitter’s suspension in a statement on Friday by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi.

The suspension of the social networking service was also shared on the Twitter handle of the Federal Ministry of Information, which has since generated reactions from some Nigerians on Twitter.

The minister cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the reason for the suspension.

“I will be deactivating my Twitter account for now. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the First Lady tweeted.


Reactions

Individuals and groups including Amnesty International (AI) have condemned the decision to suspend Twitter, saying it stifles democracy.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) warned it would sue Nigeria for the action while AI termed the action an infringement on the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

“We call on authorities to immediately reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights,” AI said.

“This action is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Mike Ozekhome, a popular opposition lawyer, “What does Nigerian government think Twitter loses by being suspended? It is just the Nigerian people that will suffer, the same way the government has been punishing Nigerians in the last six years.”

“Twitter will not even bother whether Nigerians use Twitter or not. [There] are 210 million people in Nigeria. Of this number, only about 33 million Nigerians are active on social media. Less than 15 million of these are on Twitter.  On the other hand, there are well over 300 million people across the world that use Twitter. So Twitter will not feel it. It is just like a drop of water in an oasis. Twitter will not even know that a country has suspended it.”

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