Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said that a state-wide ban on Twitter which prompted international condemnation over the weekend was only a temporary measure in response to misinformation.
Many Nigerians, who use mobile networks to access Twitter, found they were unable to access the social media platform on Saturday, reports dpa news agency.
The Information Ministry’s announcement that it had suspended access to Twitter came days after the micr-blogging platform removed one of the President’s tweets where made a reference to the country’s 30-month civil war in 1967-1970, warning “those who wanted the government to fail” to desist from fomenting trouble.
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigeria civil war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the President tweeted on June 1.
Twitter said it had deleted the Buhari tweet because it violated the site’s rules against abusive behaviour.
The US technology giant also suspended the account for 12 hours.
Buhari said on Sunday that the suspension of Twitter was not just a response to the removal of his own tweet.
“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,” Buhari said.
“All the while, the company has escaped accountability.”
The President added in his statement that the removal of his tweet was “disappointing” and that “the censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today”.
There was widespread criticism of the Twitter ban, domestically and abroad, with the EU, US, Canada and the UK expressing disappointment in a joint statement on Saturday.
Banning systems of expression is not the answer, the statement said.