Twitter has written FG over suspension, seeks for dialogue, says Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government on Tuesday confirmed that Twitter has formally written to seek for dialogue on issues leading to the indefinite suspension of its operations in the country.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, confirmed this when he featured on “Politics Nationwide,” a Radio Nigeria call-in programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“I can confirm that Twitter has written the Federal Government that they are ready to talk. As we have always maintained, the door is not locked and we are open-minded but Twitter must work towards it,” he said.

The minister reiterated the government’s position that it would not tolerate any platform that would be used to destabilise the country.

Mohammed said among other conditions for Twitter to resume operation in Nigeria, there must be an agreement as to what contents it could post.

He said Twitter and other platforms must also register as a Nigerian company, obtain a license from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and be guided by the rules of the licensing as well as pay taxes.

According to the minister, regulation of social media platforms is becoming a global practice.

He said most countries were just waking up to the fact that the platforms were becoming more powerful than even government and needed to be regulated.

“Singapore, Algeria, Pakistan, Turkey regulate the social media, Australia has done so. Even EU that does not have particular laws on social media has made recommendations in a white paper,” he said.

The minister said that the United Kingdom initiated a new law that would make social media companies be fined up to 18 million pounds (about N10.8 billion) if they failed to stamp out online abuses.

He said Google was fined 220 million Euros (about N110 billion) on June 7 by French Competition Regulator for abusing its dominance in the online advertising market in France.

Similarly, the minister said the Federal Cabinet of Pakistan had approved a new set of rules to regulate social media.

In the rules, according to the minister, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even TikTok were to register and open offices in Pakistan.

He said in compliance with the new online broadcasting rule of Turkey, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video had obtained licences from that country’s broadcasting authority.

Mohammed noted that regulation of social media was not synonymous with stifling press freedom.

“We must not confuse press freedom with irresponsibility. How can you stay in your country and allow your own platform to be used to propagate war in another country?

“The suspension of Twitter is to ensure that no particular platform is used to cause war in Nigeria. Secondly, it is to ensure that whoever is making money in Nigeria must be made to pay tax.

“Our appeal to Nigerians is that they should understand where we are coming from.
We have no intention to stifle people’s freedom or to cut off the source of livelihood of anybody.

“There must be a country devoid of war before we can talk of freedom and a source of living,” he said.

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