BUT…. that is not the main reason of President Muhammadu Buhari banning Twitter in Nigeria. Because Twitter was a platform that was used during the EndSars Protest in 2020. President Muhammadu Buhari knew that Twitter played a very VITAL role in helping Nigerian youths to fight for the EndSars protests. In fact, Twitter went ahead to donate funds to help the Nigerian youths to carry-on with the protests. Fundraisers were all began to keep the momentum of the EndSars Protests. Through the help of Twitter, foreign aids came in the form of financial assistance to keep the EndSars Protests going. It was a really TERRIBLE situation during the EndSars Protests in Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari: Twitter deletes Nigerian leader’s ‘civil war’ post
The tweet referred to the 1967-70 Nigerian Civil War and to treating “those misbehaving today” in “the language they will understand”.
It follows a recent spate of attacks on offices, mainly in the south-east, blamed on regional secessionists.
President Muhammadu Tweet:
“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.”
Nigeria’s information minister called Twitter’s move unfair, labelling it “double standards”.
I know you want to ask, what is EndSars Protest? Why were the Nigerian youths protesting for EndSars? Now, let me explain to you how the EndSars Protest began. It all boils down to HOW BAD Nigeria has become!!! Before I go further into the Twitter ban in Nigeria. Let me tell you about the EndSars protest that happened in Nigeria in 2020.
The Cause of the EndSars Protest in Nigeria 2020 End SARS campaign
Efforts to ban SARS increased in October 2020 after a SARS police officer shot a young Nigerian man in front of the Wetland Hotel in Ughelli, Delta State. Video of the incident trended on social media, leading to nationwide protests within a few days. The protests quickly expanded from an online hashtag to widespread street protests in days. Popular Nigerian Twitter influencers Rinnu, FK, Kelvin Odanz, Dr. Dipo Awojide, and several others quickly joined in raising awareness of the protests, which gave End SARS protestors added weight and support. You can read about the EndSARS history here.
Peaceful #EndSARS protestors in Abuja, the nation’s capital, were attacked, beaten, and chased away by federal police officers, but protestors returned as they took the protests to the Police Force Headquarters.
On 9 October in Ogbomosho in Oyo State, a protestor named Jimoh Isiaq was shot dead by police officers while participating in the #EndSARS protests. His death at the hands of police officers further increased the anger nationwide as he became a martyr for protesters. Several hashtags, including #EndPoliceBrutality and #RememberJimoh, trended on Twitter. On 10 October, a police station in Ijebu-Ode, South-Western Nigeria, was attacked by protestors angry over the death of Jimoh Isiaq and several others who had died at the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
In Lagos, protestors marched to the Lagos State House of Assembly to demand an end to SARS. The following morning, an emergency session of the Lagos House of Assembly was held as lawmakers allowed some protestors into the building to observe proceedings. A motion was passed and agreed on by legislators who voted in favour of the protestors to end the rogue police unit SARS and sent the recommendations of the House to the Federal Government.
On 11 October, the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu announced the disbandment of SARS on live television and said a new tactical team would be unveiled shortly.
However, protests continued as Nigerians believed the announcement was just “audio talk” (Nigerian slang used to describe something that is said but not implemented). The new hashtags #EndSWAT and #SARSMUSTEND went international as protestors called for the new unit to be scrapped as they thought several members of the defunct SARS would be integrated into the new unit.
Back in Southern Nigeria, the Rivers State government unconstitutionally placed a ban on all forms of protests in the oil-rich state, asking police to arrest any defaulters. However, on 13 October, EndSARS protestors marched in defiance of the ban, all the way up to the State Government House, where the governor resides.
In Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, protestors marched asking for an end to police brutality and the disbandment of SARS. In Abeokuta, Ogun State, and Benin City, Edo State, thousands of Nigerian youths marched in solidarity asking the government to end police brutality. In Benin City, police tear-gassed protestors and arrested some and charged them with treason and attempted murder. However, according to reports on Twitter and media websites, they were later released after the Attorney-General of the State asked the Police Commissioner to let them go, although arrested protestors were asked to come with a surety to sign on their behalf before they would be released.
The End SARS protests were largely decentralized with no actual leaders, though there were protest organizers in several cities who created WhatsApp groups, fundraised, and supplied protestors on the ground with food, medicine, and other supplies. Legal services were acquired and doctors were deployed on ground to administer first aid to protestors. Protestors had access to ambulance services obtained with funds donated by people in Nigeria and abroad including donations via bitcoin and lawyers went from city to city providing arrested protestors with representation and facilitating bails.
As the protests gained more momentum and exposure in Abuja, protestors returned in the thousands to the Police Headquarters and once again were shot at with water cannons and live ammunition.
Popular Twitter activist Aisha Yesufu was reportedly beaten by male police officers, and her car was damaged by police trucks chasing protestors in the streets of Abuja. Politicians and top government officials kept silent including presidential hopeful Bola Tinubu in Lagos, as police officers in Surulere shot and killed several protestors. Several young people were injured and their cars damaged, while others were brutalized by police officers in police stations.
In total, eight people including a 10-year-old boy were killed in Ogbomosho, Oyo State, by police bullets while at least three were shot dead in Lagos—including an auto mechanic who was not part of the protests but was killed by a SARS officer in Lagos.
On 16 October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey revealed a new #ENDSARS emoji on Twitter that carries the colors of the Nigerian flag that is added to tweets whenever the hashtag #EndSARS is used as a sign of support for Nigerian protestors. On the same day, after a week and a half of widespread national protests, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a series of Twitter posts told Nigerians he chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT to set up judicial panels of inquiry, “so [they] can see justice served, and fast”. His statements came as protestors occupied streets and remained defiant until their demands are implemented.
On 18 October 2020, the Nigerian Army announced its annual training exercise “Operation Crocodile Smile VI”, a program which included a cyber warfare exercise component that sought to identify, track, and counter “negative comments on social media across the country”. The operation also sought to confiscate arms and ammunition that had been used in violent crimes that escalated during the protests.
In the Lekki Massacre on the night of 20 October 2020, Nigerian Armed Forces shot at End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria. The number of casualties is disputed, with witnesses and Amnesty International saying several people were shot dead while Nigerian authorities claim there were no fatalities but that 25 people were wounded.
Indeed, the International Community actually condemned the twitter ban in Nigeria by the Nigerian government. Worse yet, the ban of Twitter in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari has really affected Nigeria’s economy!! Twitter said it chose Ghana because it is “a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet”.
Olu Fasan described the Twitter ban by President Muhammadu Buhari as: Pyrrhic victory: Nigeria will pay for its punitive Treatment of Twitter.
“Surely, only an anti-intellectual government that belittles education and the diffusion of ideas would ban the use of Twitter. Alas, the Buhari government did!” Olu Fasan
Olu Fasan also shared his own view on the Twitter ban President Muhammadu Buhari
Besides, if Twitter had not “insulted” Buhari by deleting his offensive tweet, the Federal Government wouldn’t have asked it to be incorporated in Nigeria.
Indeed, after Twitter’s choice of Ghana as its Africa HQ, the Minister of Information merely regretted the decision, while adding: “I think Twitter has the prerogative and exclusive right as to where to site its headquarters”. At no point was any provision of CAMA 2020 invoked or the need for Twitter to meet any operating condition mentioned. This makes the Federal Government’s conditions for lifting the Twitter ban an afterthought and a punitive measure.
But it’s self-defeating, in a globalised world, for an economically fragile country like Nigeria to treat global corporate giants like Twitter with hostility; that signals to foreign investors that the country is not open for business. Let’s face it, the world is shunning Nigeria; it’s not beating its path to Nigeria’s door!
Last week, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, showed that Nigeria only received $3bn out of the $75bn foreign direct investment that came to Africa between 2015 and 2019. That’s just four per cent! The same report said FDI flows to Nigeria decreased by 48.5 per cent in 2020, compared to 2019. Nigeria simply repels foreign investors.
“…Nigeria will pay for its punitive Treatment of Twitter.” Olu Fasan
But why? Well, Nigeria has poor investment climate and negative investment image. Sadly, government’s heavy-handed treatment of Twitter will inevitably worsen both.