The Nigerian government declared yesterday that Twitter and its founder, Jack Dorsey, are “vicariously” liable for the losses the nation incurred during the EndSARS protest last year.
LEADERSHIP recalls that during the EndSARS protest, Nigeria was said to have incurred losses amounting to an estimated N700bn in economic value.
Though it was difficult to quantify the losses suffered by families, businesses and the country as a whole, some economic experts pegged the losses at about N1trillion.
Apart from security personnel that were killed by an angry mob in the protest, numerous properties were also damaged during the carnage that was sparked by alleged killing of protesters at the Admiralty Toll Plaza, Lekki.
Federal government’s allegation against Twitter is sequel to its suspension of operations of the tech giant penultimate Friday, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as reasons for the temporary ban of the social media platform.
Nigeria’s minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who announced the ban had noted that the federal government also directed the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, “to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria”.
Speaking yesterday during a Radio Nigeria call-in programme, “Politics Nationwide’’, the Information minister again took on Twitter, alleging that its founder, Dorsey, raised funds through Bitcoins to sponsor the EndSARS protest.
Mohammed also said Dorsey’s platform, Twitter, was used to fuel the crisis.
He said when he made the allegations earlier Nigerians did not take him seriously until an online media outfit carried out investigation and fact-checking.
The minister recalled that an online publication confirmed that Dorsey retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalition and groups supporting the EndSARS protest.
He said, “If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters, then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest.
“We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisations were looted while 243 public property were looted.
“Also, 81 warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by the Lagos State Government were burnt to ashes.”
He said it was also confirmed that the Twitter founder launched a fundraiser, asking people to donate via Bitcoins.
Mohammed stated that the microblogging site also launched Emoji to make the EndSARS protest visible on the microblogging site.
He said Dorsey also retweeted the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of EndSARS.
Insisting that Twitter remains suspended, the minister noted that the federal government has no apology to offer to those unhappy over the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country.
He said a country must exist in peace before people could exercise freedom of speech and fight for a source of livelihood.
He maintained that the social media platform consistently offered its platform to promote agenda that were inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Twitter has become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter. The promoter consistently used the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run-down INEC offices and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Every attempt to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader was not taken seriously,” Mohammed stated.