Telecommunications companies in Nigeria including MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9Mobile have started blocking access to the microblogging site, Twitter, The PUNCH has learnt.
The telcos said they received a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission to block access to Twitter in the country following the suspension by the Federal Government on Friday.
The Nigerian Twitterati woke up on Saturday encountering difficulty in accessing their Twitter handles while some navigated the hurdle using virtual private networks.
Mobile network operators in the country under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, however, made it clear that they have started blocking access to Twitter in a statement issued on Saturday.
The statement which was obtained by The PUNCH was titled, ‘Order to Suspend access to Twitter’. It was jointly signed by ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo; and ALTON Executive Secretary, Gbolahan Awonuga.
It read, “We, The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.
“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator.
“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC. We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.
“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.”
Aside from MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9Mobile, some of the Internet Service Providers in Nigeria include Spectranet, ipNX Nigeria Limited, Swift Networks Ltd., Vezeti Service LTD, Cyberspace Network Limited, Mobitel Limited, Smile Nigeria, ITClick Solutions Limited, and Netcom Africa.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that Twitter deleted a post by the Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday.
Consequently, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who had accused Twitter of double standards, announced the suspension of the microblogging site on Friday, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
Nigeria had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021. WhatsApp is the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista. According to Statista, about 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger.