In compliance with federal government’s directive, some state governors have deactivated their personal and official Twitter handles.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had on Friday announced the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
The ban came a day after Twitter had deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet on the ground that it allegedly suggested genocidal intentions against the people of the South East.
Apparently to ensure compliance with the federal government directive to state government to shut down their Twitter handles, some state governors shut down their personal Twitter handles and the official ones used by the states.
In Plateau State, the commissioner for Information and Communications, Dan Majang, told LEADERSHIP in a telephone conversation in Jos, the state capital, that the state government has complied with the directive.
Also, checks by this paper also revealed that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, was no longer active on Twitter about three days before the federal government’s suspension of the activities of the multi-blogging platform in Nigeria.
However, the governor’s special assistant on media, Kelvin Ebiri, could not be reached to confirm if Wike is still active on the platform despite the ban.
But a source close to Government House, Port Harcourt, told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that the governor, as a law-abiding Nigerian, decided to obey the directive of the federal government.
In Osun, the state government has complied with the federal government’s directive to the state government to shut down their Twitter handles.
Also, the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has equally complied with the ban by deactivating his Twitter handle.
Investigations revealed that the Twitter handle of the governor has remained ineffective since the ban as a measure of compliance with the federal government’s directive, just as the state government’s official Twitter handle has also been deactivated.
Though the chief press secretary to the state governor, Ismail Omipidan, declined comment on the impact of the compliance on the state government, our correspondent reports that it may have adversely affected the expression of position on vital issues as it affects the state and the governor.
Similarly, the Cross River State government has complied with the directive by deactivating all its twitter handles.
Christian Ita, the chief press secretary and senior special adviser to Governor Ben Ayade, confirmed this yesterday while fielding questions from our correspondent in Calabar yesterday.
As of the time of fielding this report, the twitter handle of the state governor was not functional.
Ayade’s media aide said, “As a government, we cannot afford to flout directives of the federal government rewarding compliance with handling of twitter.
In the same vein, the twitter handles of both the governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq and that of the state government have been shut down.
The governor’s chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, confirmed this to LEADERSHIP yesterday.
“Yes, I can confirm that the official handles of His Excellency the Governor and that of the state government are now fully inactive in compliance with the policy of the Nigerian government, ” Ajakaye said.
Imo State government has also totally complied with the ban on the use of Twitter in the country.
This was made known by the chief press secretary to the governor, Ogwuike Nwachukwu, in a chat with LEADERSHIP in Ilorin, the state capital.
According to him, as a responsive and responsible government, the state has no option than to comply with the directive by the federal government.
“We have no reason not to obey the order by the federal government; we have disabled the state’s official Twitter handle and the personal Twitter handle of the governor, Hope Uzodimma,” he said.
The Delta State government has also suspended the use of its Twitter handle, @dsgovernment, even as state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has equally deactivated his own.
The chief press secretary to the governor, Oliseh Ifejika, said the state government has directed all its television and radio stations to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for news and programmes presentation, especially phone-in.
Like other states of the federation, the Ekiti state government and the governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, have deactivated their different Twitter handles.
The state government has @ekitistategov as its Twitter handle while that of the governor is @kfayemi.
Checks by our correspondent on the state government and the governor’s Twitter handles showed that their most recent tweets came on June 4 and May 28, 2021 respectively.
But it was not clear whether the handles are still active and functioning or not.
The state commissioner for Information, Akinbowale Omole, said communication is under the exclusive list and the federal government of Nigeria is legally empowered to regulate it.
As of yesterday, Niger State government was not operating any of its official Twitter handles, but it was not clear whether the governor is still using his personal handle.
The state director-general ICT and public enlightenment, Abdulberqy Ebbo, told LEADERSHIP that the state government was not using the handles for now.
Finding revealed that the last time posting was done in one of the official handles was about two weeks ago.
Also, investigations revealed that Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, only tweeted last Sunday, despite the ban by the federal government.
Governor el-Rufai may have used VPN in tweeting a story link at exactly 09:37pm last Sunday. “Based Nigeria: African country teaches US lesson in how to handle Big Tech tyranny,” the governor’s post read.
It was further observed that since then, el-Rufai’s twitter handle has remained silent, though effort to get reaction from the governor’s media aides was not successful.
In Lagos, LEADERSHIP checks revealed that Lagos State Government and Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s twitter handles had not been pulled down but were not functioning. In compliance with the federal government’s directive, both the state government officials and the governor have not tweeted.
Sharing his opinion on the Twitter suspension, Sanwo-Olu said: “Mr. The President, who is the Commander-in-Chief, may have some security information which I do not have as a sitting governor. I won’t say what the federal government or Twitter has done is right or wrong. What I see is that, on both sides, there are issues that can be resolved.
But the Benue State Government has said that the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria is capable of heightening tensions and fueling suspicions among Nigerians over the real motives behind the ban
Governor Samuel Ortom through his chief press secretary, in an interview with our Correspondent said, the Benue State Government has no regard for the FG’s ban on Twitter.
According to him, “We have no regard for the FG’s ban on Twitter, because as far as we are concerned, the ban on Twitter is unconstitutional and illegal; therefore, we are going ahead to Tweet.”
The governor described the ban as an ill-advised diversion from the core issues of insecurity and injustice plaguing the nation, even as he emphasized that Twitter ban will offer no solution to any of the myriad problems facing Nigeria.
According to Ortom, the act of suspending Twitter amounts to suppressing freedom of expression.
No Communication Between Nigeria, Twitter Yet – FG
Meanwhile, the federal government has said there is no communication between tech giant, Twitter.
It said Twitter will have to register as a company before it can operate in Nigeria.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, said Nigeria is a sovereign nation and would not surrender its sovereignty to Twitter or any other tech giant.
Also, the minister said the federal government will decide whether or not to prosecute the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; the founder of Deeper Life Christian Ministry Worldwide, Pastor William Kumuyi as well as other violators of the Twitter ban by the federal government.
Mohammed who disclosed this during an interview with BBC News Africa which was monitored by LEADERSHIP said the government has made it clear that if anybody violates the regulation that such a person will be prosecuted.
When asked specifically whether the government would prosecute Kumuyi and Adeboye for defying its Twitter ban, he said, “The Attorney-General has made it clear that if anybody violates the regulation that such a person will be prosecuted and this is not about any particular person. It is in the realm of the Attorney-General to decide who or whom not to prosecute.”
PDP Reps Stage Walkout Over Debate On Ban
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives was yesterday divided over the position of the House on the suspension of Twitter, by the federal government.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus of House dared the government as they vowed to continue to tweet despite the directive by the minister of Justice and Attorney-general of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami.
Speaking on behalf of the Caucus, Chinda challenged the government to arrest them on behalf of Nigerians.
“We have decided to offer ourselves. The government should not arrest Nigerians; we are their representatives. They should come and arrest us. The minister should tell is when and in which court he wants to prosecute us; we shall all be there to face the prosecution,” Chinda said.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had in his welcome speech mandated the House Committees on Communication, Justice, Information, and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence to immediately commence nvestigation on the suspension.
Specifically, the committees are mandated to unravel the circumstances of the decision by the federal government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria; and The legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
The committee was also mandated to invite the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to brief the House of Representatives on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and to report to the House within ten days.
The report of the Committees, according to Gbajabimila, will guide further action by the House of Representatives on the matter.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Speaker, some members of the PDP caucus in the House staged a workout from the chamber.