Nigeria’s government said Friday it was suspending Twitter indefinitely in Africa’s most populous nation, a day after the company deleted a controversial tweet President Muhammadu Buhari made about a secessionist movement.
It was not immediately clear when the suspension would go into effect as users could still access Twitter late Friday, and many said they would simply use VPNs to maintain access to the platform.
Others mocked the government for using the platform to announce the action. “You’re using Twitter to suspend Twitter? Are you not mad?” one user tweeted in response.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed said Friday that government officials took the step because the platform was being used “for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” Mohammed criticized Twitter for deleting the post. “The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very suspicious,” he said, adding that Twitter had in the past ignored “inciting” tweets against the Nigerian government.
Twitter deleted Buhari’s post on Wednesday, calling it abusive, after the president threatened suspected separatist militants in the southeast.
More than 1 million people died during the 1967-1970 civil war that erupted when secessionists sought to create an independent Biafra for the ethnic Igbo people. Buhari, an ethnic Fulani, was on the opposing side in the war against the Igbos.
In recent months, pro-Biafra separatists have been accused of attacking police and government buildings, and Buhari vowed to retaliate and “treat them in the language they understand.”