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Twitter in Nigeria not accountable, platform for fake news – Buhari

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ByJake Aimuan

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the presidency was justified in slamming the ‘temporary suspension’ on Twitter operations in Nigeria, saying that Twitter was not accountable but had become a platform for disseminating false information that were detrimental to the country.

Buhari explained that the action of the government “is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post” but also due to numerous problems the social media platform has created for Nigeria especially in these critical times.

The president, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, also defended the statement he made on insecurity in the South-East vis-â-vis the activities of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

He vowed to resist any attempt to drag the country into another civil war, after the Biafra experience.

The statement said, “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 has 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.”

He said that considering the immensely destructive consequences of actions prompted or promoted by social media platforms worldwide, the owners or operators of social media platforms ought to be more circumspect.

Crimes in the society allegedly fuelled by the negative influence of these platforms could adversely affect the “emerging digital culture”, the president noted.

“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities”, he said, adding, “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.”

While noting that he had previously warned against “social media’s disruptive and divisive influences”, Buhari said that “the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction” to Twitter’s removal of his tweet.

“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact”, the statement said.

While affirming IPOB as “terrorist
organisation”, the president said that to say that they would be treated “in a language they understand” was merely a security terminology, which implies “that their force shall be met with force.”

“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.

“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire.

“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”

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