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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

JUST IN: Minister Pantami, Lai leads talks with Twitter as ban enters day 7

Following the ban of twitter in Nigeria by the Federal Government, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhajo Lai Mohammed, has revealed that the Government are in talks with Twitter to resolve the matter that led to the ban.

According to the Minister, while speaking with state correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, Twitter must register with the Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) before it can operate in Nigeria, so that they can pay their due taxes.

Mohammed accused the social media platform of suspicious activities in the country, adding that it paid no taxes to the Nigerian government despite the revenue it generated from Nigerians.

He said: “It may interest you to know that most of the Over The Top and social media platforms operating in Nigeria do not have any office in Nigeria and do not pay taxes to the Nigerian government for the billions they earn here.

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“That is not the best practice globally, and that is why we are insisting that for you to operate in Nigeria you must first be a Nigerian company and be licensed by the broadcasting commission.

“Therefore, any OTT (over-the-top) or social media platform operating in Nigeria must do so legally.”

“We have already advertised the notice to the companies concerned to apply for registration of licence.

“The cardinal thing is that Twitter must be registered in Nigeria. Twitter must stop using its platform for activities that are inimical to the growth of Nigeria and its corporate existence.” he added.

Speaking further, the Minister said Twitter had refused to censor tweets from the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, whom he said incited violence against law enforcement agencies from abroad.

“We’ve found out that Twitter is actually the platform of choice for a particular separatist leader who resides outside the country and issues directives to its members to attack symbols of government authority, such as the police, the military, the electoral commission offices, correctional centres, etc.

“And this is being done wilfully and consistently without any consequences from Twitter.

“You know, no country worth its name will tolerate that. And no company, no matter its self-importance, will force any nation to accept this,” he said.

The minister accused Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, of funding October’s #EndSARS protests while citing facts from an online news platform, The Cable.

He explained, “I said Twitter funded the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria last year. And people have challenged it.

“And I’m glad that The Cable has done some fact-findings and their conclusions are as follows: they said the truth is that, fact-checking showed that indeed, Twitter played a prominent role in helping to raise funds for the #EndSARS protesters. Whether they paid directly, helped to pay or helped to raise funds, it’s a matter of semantics.”

He rebuffed claims that Twitter’s suspension was not effective, adding that the development did not stifle free speech as many claimed.

According to PUNCH, it was learnt that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami and his counterpart for  Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would  lead the talks with Twitter.

A top source disclosed this but raised concerns that the NBC lacked the technology and legal backing to regulate social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“Pantami and Lai Mohammed will handle the talks with Twitter. In fact Pantami is the main person in charge of this because the NCC reports to him and it is the NCC that gives instructions to Internet service providers. It was Pantami that gave the NCC the order to block Twitter and the NCC passed the message to service providers

“I don’t know how the NBC will regulate the OTTs because they lack the legal right and the infrastructure.” he said

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