Nigeria’s government has reversed its ban on Twitter, thus giving access to more than 40 million users to reconnect to the social networking site, seven months after authorities blocked it.
The West African nation halted Twitter operations in June after the company deleted a comment by President Muhammadu Buhari, provoking an international outcry over freedom of expression.
“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,” said a tweet from the director-general of the country’s National Information Technology Development Agency Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi.
Both the Nigerian government and Twitter representatives have been in talks since over restoring the service based on a set of conditions.
Twitter reportedly met key conditions, among them that it would open an office in Nigeria, appoint a country head, and meet its tax obligations.
Twitter has said the block was deeply worrying, calling free and open internet access a basic right. The platform has a major role in political discourse in Nigeria.
We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria. Our mission in Nigeria & 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.
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) January 13, 2022
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.
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 local researchers, and many used the platform for business.
The United States, European Union, and Canada were among those who joined rights groups in condemning the ban as damaging to freedom of expression in Africa’s most populous country.