Buhari insists Twitter must pay taxes, silence regime critics before lifting illegal ban

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday maintained that his administration’s unconstitutional ban on Twitter will remain in place until a set of conditions can be satisfied by the social media giant.

“I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens to continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements,” Mr Buhari said in his Independence Day address

The president repeated his government’s narrative that Twitter was national security and economic threat to Nigeria, which led to its restriction.

But his attorney-general Abubakar Malami had argued in court that the ban was ordered after Twitter deleted the president’s tweets that threatened violence against ethnic Igbos of Nigeria’s south-east.

“Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to resolve the impasse. Subsequently, I constituted a Presidential Committee to engage Twitter to explore the possibility of resolving the issue.

Mr Buhari listed the demand of his administration from Twitter as including national security and cohesion, Twitter’s registration as a business in Nigeria, physical presence and representation in Nigeria, remittance of taxes, dispute resolution arrangements and engagement of local personnel and products.

“As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety,” Mr Buhari said.

The president’s comments came hours after Peoples Gazette reported that the ban was imposed based on Northern Nigeria’s penal code statutes, which did not apply to Southern Nigeria.

The Nigerian Constitution, which is applicable to all sections of the country’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious entities, accords the fundamental rights to all citizens to pass and impact information.

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