Nigerians can now access their Twitter accounts without using Virtual Private Network (VPN) – 222 days after the Federal Government suspended the operations of the social media giant.
Though the Nigerian government announced that Twitter operations will be restored at 12.00 am on Thursday, January 13, it did not.
Twitter remained inaccessible in Lagos as of 12:30 am when our correspondent visited the microblogging website.
However, at 4.05 am, the social media platform was accessible.
Announcing its official return, Twitter assured the Nigerian government of its commitment of driving civic participation.
It posted, “We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria. Our mission in Nigeria and around the world, is to serve the public conversation.
We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for commerce, cultural engagement, and civic participation.
“We’re committed to integrating diverse perspectives that make our service better for everyone.”
The PUNCH had reported that the Federal Government ended its suspension of Twitter, seven months after banning the social media giant in a dispute over a tweet by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Nigeria halted Twitter operations in June after the company deleted a comment by Buhari, provoking an international outcry over freedom of expression.
The government and Twitter have been in negotiations since over restoring the service based on a set of conditions, including Twitter registering its operations in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari… has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight,” a statement from the country’s information technology development agency said on Wednesday.
The ban shocked many in Nigeria, where Twitter had a major role in political discourse, with the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls after Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014, and #EndSARS during anti-police brutality protests in 2020.
Earlier, Nigerian officials had also criticised Twitter for deleting Buhari’s comment while accusing the platform of allowing activities that threatened the country’s existence.
That was a reference to social media remarks by separatist agitators from the country’s southeast, where a civil war five decades ago killed one million people.
Twitter deleted a comment when Buhari had referenced Nigeria’s civil war, in the context of a warning to those responsible for recent unrest in the country’s southeast.
After the ban, officials also referenced then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s support for the #EndSARS protests last year in Nigeria against police brutality.
About 40 million people or around 20 percent of Nigeria’s population have a Twitter account, according to AFP, and many use the platform for business.