President Muhammadu Buhari’s Tuesday stern warning to secessionists assumed global dimension when the popular micro-blogging platform, Twitter, deleted a tweet on the President’s official handle @MBuhari, in which he threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving in the language they understand.”
President Buhari had in the tweet shared on Tuesday, cited the Nigerian Civil War experience, which was fought between 1967 and 1970, and noted that most of those “misbehaving” by burning electoral offices were too young to understand the gravity of war.
The tweet had attracted millions of comments and widespread condemnation with many Nigerians criticizing the President for making reference to the war in which millions of Nigerians, mostly of Igbo extraction, were killed.
Some Nigerians had called on Twitter to suspend his account, claiming the President’s tweet “expresses intentions of self-harm or suicide”, as stated on Twitter’s usage policy.
Twitter yesterday deleted the message and replaced the tweet with: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules. Learn More.”
According to Twitter: “When we determine that a Tweet violated the Twitter Rules, we require the violator to remove it before they can Tweet again.
“We send an email notification to the violator identifying the Tweet(s) in violation and which policies have been violated. They will then need to go through the process of removing the violating Tweet or appealing our review if they believe we made an error.”
The Twitter flag-down, akin to January’s suspension of then U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, has been received with mixed reactions. The Federal Government yesterday took a swipe at the social media giant, alleging double standards in matters particularly bordering on Nigeria’s domestic issues, describing the company’s role in the country as “suspicious.”
Reacting after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, pointedly accused Twitter of double standards in the domestic affairs of Nigeria.
The minister was responding to a question on the perception of double standards applied by President Buhari in responding to security concerns in some regions of the country as well as the fact that Twitter had pulled down his post.
Mohammed stated with dismay that while Twitter has deliberately ignored inciting tweets by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and his cohorts, it also displayed the same biases it did during the #EndSARS protests where government and private properties were looted and set on fire, terming its human rights.
“Twitter’s role is suspect, Nigeria will not be fooled anymore. Twitter may have its own rules, it is not the universal rule. If Mr. President, anywhere in the world feels very bad and concerned about a situation, he is free to express such views. Now, we should stop comparing apples with oranges. If an organization is proscribed, it is different from any other, which is not proscribed.
“Two, you have an organization that gives directives to its members to attack police stations, kill Policemen, attack correctional centres, kill warders, and you are saying that Mr. President does not have the right to express his dismay and anger about that? I don’t see anywhere in the world where an organization or a person will stay somewhere outside Nigeria and direct his members to attack the symbols of authority, the Police and military, especially when that organization has been proscribed.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspect. Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? The same Twitter during the #EndSARS protests was funding the protesters, saying it was about the right to protest. But when a similar thing happened on the Capitol, it became insurrection. You see, we are not going to be fooled by anybody.”
His response when why Sheik Gumi, whose comments justifying Boko Haram actions in the past, has not been arrested by security agents, the Minister’s response was:
“You are mixing up things. If an organization is proscribed abinitio, that organization does not exist in that country. There are many Nigerians, for instance, who have been inciting people against government. But we are discussing Twitter. There are so many people who have been spewing hate against Mr. President, against this government. If we were to pick up everybody today who had been abusing this administration, the detention centres will be filled up and you will be the first person also to talk about lack of tolerance, lack of rule of law.”