Nigeria’s government has announced an indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country, two days after the social media company removed a post from president Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.
The information minister, Lai Mohammed, said the government had acted because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
Mohammed did not spell out what form the suspension would take or give more details on the undermining activities. His ministry also announced Twitter’s suspension on Twitter.
Twitter deletes Nigerian president’s ‘abusive’ Biafra tweet
When asked about the details of the suspension, a ministerial aide told Reuters: “Wait and see how things will turn out.”
Twitter’s website and app continued to work in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and commercial hub Lagos on Friday.
Twitter said in a statement on Friday that it was investigating the “deeply concerning” suspension of operations, and would “provide updates when we know more”.
On Wednesday, the Twitter said Buhari’s post threatening to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings had violated its “abusive behaviour” policy.
In April, the information minister reacted angrily when Twitter chose neighbouring Ghana for its first African office. He said the company had been influenced by media misrepresentations of Nigeria, including reports of crackdowns on protests last year.
Demonstrators calling for police reform had used social media to organise, raise money and share alleged proof of police harassment. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted to encourage his followers to donate.
Following the protests, Mohammed called for “some form of regulation” on social media to combat “fake news”.
Airtel, one of Nigeria’s largest mobile carriers, declined to say whether the company had received any government directives about the suspension.
MTN, the largest mobile carrier, did not respond to calls and a message seeking comment.