Nigeria has lifted its ban on Twitter, first instated on June 5th, 2021. The Nigerian government says Twitter has agreed to meet all of its demands, according to a report from CNN. These include Twitter opening a local office in Nigeria, addressing concerns over its tax payments, and “managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian law.”
This last condition is particularly important, as the original ban was condemned by many international agencies as an act of censorship. The Nigerian government banned Twitter in 2021 just days after the company deleted a tweet by the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, that threatened secessionists in Nigeria’s southeast region. Some had interpreted the tweet as threatening genocide for its reference to the Nigerian civil war of the 1960s.
At the time, the Nigerian government said the removal of the tweet was “disappointing,” but that other reasons factored into the decision to ban Twitter, including its spread of “misinformation and fake news.” Many nations, including the UK, Canada, the US, and EU members condemned the ban. Twitter has previously played an important role in civil movements in Nigeria, including helping to mobilize the EndSARS protests against police violence. It’s not clear whether Twitter’s return is then predicated on tighter government control.
In a statement issued by Nigeria’s technology agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the approval to lift the ban was given by President Buhari.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 am tonight, 13th January 2022,” said the statement, as reported by TechCrunch.
The statement says Twitter will create “a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022,” and that the company has “agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.” Twitter will also “enroll Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals,” which gives police tools to request and retain data on users.
According to the statement: “Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.”
We’ve reached out to Twitter for comment and will update this story if we hear back.