ABUJA – Nigeria has directed all TV and radio stations to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately,” describing its use as unpatriotic, the country’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) said.
The government of Africa’s most populous country said it was suspending the platform on Friday, two days after the US social media giant deleted a tweet from the president’s account for violating its rules.
“Broadcasting stations are hereby advised to de-install twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source… of information gathering for news,” NBC’s director Armstrong Idachaba wrote in a statement.
“It would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information.”
READ: Nigeria’s move to ban Twitter condemned
More than 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, according to NOI polls, a public opinion and research organisation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama summoned diplomats for a meeting Monday in the capital Abuja, after the EU and several countries issued a joint statement voicing concerns with the Twitter ban.
“Banning systems of expression is not the answer,” the EU, US, Britain, Canada and Ireland said in the statement late on Saturday.
The statement added it was “precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
READ: Nigeria ‘indefinitely’ suspends Twitter
The government’s suspension came after Twitter on Wednesday deleted a remark on President Muhammadu Buhari’s account in which he referred to the country’s civil war five decades ago in a warning about recent unrest.
The presidency denied that the Twitter suspension was a response to the removal of that post.
“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,” a presidency spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Shehu said the removal of Buhari’s tweet was “disappointing” and that “major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities.”
Twitter said it was “deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria” and that it would work “to restore access for all”.