Many prominent Nigerians have continued to defy the ban on micro-blogging and social media platform, Twitter, despite the threat by the Nigerian government to prosecute Nigerians still posting or using the micro blogging site.
Last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria over what it termed, “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
The suspension came days after Twitter deleted a controversial tweet by Buhari where he made reference to the 1967 civil war.
Amid the public outcry and criticism that greeted the government’s Twitter suspension, the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, on Saturday ordered the prosecution of violators of the ban.
Nigerians had immediately opted for Virtual Private Networks (VPN) in a bid to access the platform, daring the police to arrest them and prosecute them.
VPN, a key path for digital anonymity, has enabled Nigeria to trend in different parts of the world.
TRIBUNEPOINT WEEKLY gathered that issues relating to Twitter ban in Nigeria have become popular in free VPN locations, especially in the United States, Netherlands, Canada and Ireland.
Just two days ago, ‘Nigeria, ‘TB Joshua, ‘June 12 protest, ‘Buhari, ‘werey, ‘Oyo, ‘Igbo trended in Netherlands, America, Canada and some other countries.
Interestingly, some Governors have been using VPN to access Twitter. Among those yet to comply with Buhari’s order are the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Although some Governors who were active before the suspension have complied with the directive, the accounts of others who rarely use the platform have remained dormant as usual.
Governor Makinde had, while calling on the Government to rescind the decision, said many would be rendered jobless.
He counseled Buhari not to hamper the operations of thousands of businesses and services, maintaining that the ban is capable of affecting investors’ confidence in the country.
He, however, called for due consideration of the Government due to the implications of its action.
Lending his voice to condemn the ban, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State tweeting via his official handle, said the ban was illegal.
According to him, it is also an ill-advised move to divert the attention of Nigerians from the FG’s failure to tackle insecurity in parts of the country.
He noted that the ban amounts to suppression of fundamental human rights and gagging of social media.
Similarly, El-Rufai, a leading member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, tweeted despite the existing order by the Federal Government.
El-Rufai used the banned social media platform to tweet what seems like support for the Federal Government, saying, “Based Nigeria: African country teaches US lesson in how to handle Big Tech tyranny — RT Op-ed.”
However, when TRIBUNEPOINT WEEKLY reached Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, to comment on why his principal didn’t obey the FG’s Twitter ban directive and why he described it as illegal, the CPS said the answer was in the governor’s tweet.
Akase said, “The answer was in the question you asked.
“Even the governor’s tweet and statement we issued, the answer is there.
“So read our statement and the governor’s tweet, you will have the answer there,” he added.
Meanwhile, all efforts made by TRIBUNEPOINT WEEKLY to get a reaction from the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Oyo State, Taiwo Adisa, proved abortive as he could not take his calls.
Also, efforts by TRIBUNEPOINT WEEKLY to get a reaction from the Special Adviser to Governor Nasir El-Rufai (Media and Communication), Mr. Muyiwa Adeleke, were not successful as several calls put through to his mobile phone were showing ‘line busy’ as at time of filing this report.