Ban of Twitter in Nigeria

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From 5 June 2021 to 13 January 2022, the government of Nigeria officially banned Twitter,[1][2] which restricted it from operating in the country. The ban occurred after Twitter deleted tweets made by, and temporarily suspended, the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, warning the southeastern people of Nigeria,[3][4] predominantly Igbo people, of a potential repeat of the 1967 Nigerian Civil War due to the ongoing insurgency in Southeastern Nigeria.[5][2][6][1][7][8] The Nigerian government claimed that the deletion of the president's tweets factored into their decision, but it was ultimately based on "a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences",[9] citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence.[10]

The ban was condemned by Amnesty International,[11] the British, Canadian and Swedish diplomatic missions to Nigeria, as well as the United States and the European Union in a joint statement.[12][2] Two domestic organizations, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)[13] and the Nigerian Bar Association, indicated intent to challenge the ban in court.[2] Twitter itself called the ban "deeply concerning".[9]

Former U.S. president Donald Trump, who was banned on Twitter months before Nigeria's ban, praised the ban, stating "Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President", and also called on other countries to ban Twitter and Facebook due to "not allowing free and open speech."[14]

Nigeria's cultural minister Lai Mohammed stated the ban would be lifted once Twitter submitted to locally licensing, registration and conditions. "It will be licensed by the broadcasting commission, and must agree not to allow its platform to be used by those who are promoting activities that are inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria."[15]

In January 2022, Nigeria lifted its ban after Twitter agreed to pay an "applicable tax" and establish a legal entity within the country sometime in the first quarter of 2022.[16]


On June 1, 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari posted a tweet threatening a crackdown on regional separatists "in the language they understand".[17] The next day, Twitter deleted the tweet, claiming it was in violation of Twitter rules, but gave no further details. Nigeria's Information Minister Lai Mohammed said that Twitter's actions were part of an unfair double standard, as Twitter had not banned incitement tweets from other groups.[17] During the Nigerian Civil War a majority of deaths resulted from the blockade of Biafra which caused the deaths of millions of civilians from starvation, a fact that was not alluded to in the tweet.[18]

The current Nigerian government has long held concerns over the use of Twitter in the country.[19] The ongoing local End SARS protest began on Twitter[20] and got amplified in 2020 when it had 48 million tweets in ten days.[21] The current government has floated the idea of social media regulation on different occasions prior to banning Twitter.[22] Attempts to pass an anti-social media bill in the past have failed majorly due to massive outcry on Twitter.[23] Days before the ban, the country's minister of information called Twitter's activities in Nigeria suspicious, citing its influence on the End SARS protests.[24]


Three days after the ban, it was reported that the ban has cost the country over 6 billion naira[25] and will also contribute to the worsening unemployment in the country.[26] ExpressVPN reported an over 200 percent increase in web traffic[27] and searches for VPN spiked across the country.[28] In response, Nigeria's Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami at first openly threatened to prosecute citizens who bypass the ban using a VPN but then denied saying so after a screenshot of a Twitter deactivation notification he shared on Facebook showed a VPN logo.[29][30]

In June 2021, former U.S. President Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter months before Nigeria's ban following the 2021 United States Capitol attack, praised the ban, stating "Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President", and also called on other countries to ban Twitter and Facebook due to "not allowing free and open speech."[14]

In late June 2021, Twitter announced it would enter talks with the Nigerian government over the platform's suspension.[31] The talks began in July 2021.[32][33]

On 15 September 2021, The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said the Nigerian government will lift the ban on Twitter in a "few days." The Minister said Twitter gave a progress report of their talks with them, adding that it has been productive and quite respectful.[34][35]

On 1 October 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence Day broadcast said Twitter must meet the Nigerian government's five conditions before the suspension of the social media platform will be lifted.[36] The conditions are: Respect for national security and cohesion; registration, physical presence and representation in Nigeria; fair taxation; dispute resolution; local content.[37][38]

Lifting of the ban[edit]

On 12 January 2022, the Nigerian Government lifted the ban after Twitter agreed to establish “a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022”.[39]


  1. ^ a b "Nigeria suspends Twitter after the social media platform freezes president's account". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Nigeria bans Twitter after company deletes President Buhari's tweet". CNN. 4 June 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Twitter removes Nigerian president's 'abusive' civil war post". Reuters. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  4. ^ "Nigeria Condemns Twitter for Deleting President Buhari's Tweet". 2 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Twitter deletes Nigerian leader's 'civil war' post". BBC News. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  6. ^ Maclean, Ruth (5 June 2021). "Nigeria Bans Twitter After President's Tweet Is Deleted". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Nigerians on Twitter react to Nigeria's Twitter suspension". Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Twitter blocked in Nigeria after deleting a tweet by its president". 5 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Nigeria's Twitter ban: Government orders prosecution of violators". BBC News. 6 June 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Breaking: FG suspends Twitter's operations in Nigeria". The Informant247 News. 4 June 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  11. ^ Ohuocha, Chijioke (5 June 2021). "Nigerian telecoms firms suspend access to Twitter". Reuters. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  12. ^ "US, EU Condemn Nigeria's Twitter Ban | Voice of America - English". 6 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Rescind suspension of Twitter in Nigeria or face legal action, SERAP tells Buhari". 4 June 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Trump congratulates Nigeria for Twitter ban, says more countries should do the same". TechCrunch. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Nigeria says Twitter must register locally for ban to end". AFP. Archived from the original on 10 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Buhari lift ban on Twitter operations for Nigeria". BBC News Pidgin. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Muhammadu Buhari: Twitter deletes Nigerian leader's 'civil war' post". BBC News. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  18. ^ Nweke, Obinna Chukwunenye (2023). "Hunger as a weapon of war: Biafra, social media and the politics of famine remembrance". Third World Quarterly: 1–18. doi:10.1080/01436597.2023.2182283. ISSN 0143-6597.
  19. ^ "Why has Nigeria pulled the plug on Twitter?". TRT World. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  20. ^ "#EndSARS movement: from Twitter to Nigerian Streets". 8 February 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  21. ^ "#EndSARS: Analyzing 48 Million Tweets in 10 Days Using Brandwatch". Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  22. ^ Kazeem, Yomi (3 November 2020). "Nigerians are bracing for another government attempt to regulate social media after protests". Quartz. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  23. ^ Omilana, Timileyin. "Nigerians raise alarm over controversial Social Media Bill". Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Twitter's Mission In Nigeria Is Suspicious, Says Lai Mohammed". Channels Television. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Nigeria loses over 6 billion Naira from twitter shutdown". Nairametrics. 7 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  26. ^ "Nigeria's Twitter ban leaves businesses in the lurch". CNN. 14 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  27. ^ "As Nigeria bans Twitter, ExpressVPN records 200% increase in web traffic – Harold Li". Nairametrics. 12 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Rush for VPNs in Nigeria as Twitter access is blocked". The Guardian Nigeria News. 5 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  29. ^ "#TwitterBan: Malami denies issuing prosecution threat against Twitter users". 11 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  30. ^ "FG not after any religious leader for tweeting but those aiding Twitter to flout ban —Malami". Vanguard News. 10 June 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Nigeria announces talks with Twitter after ban, as Ecowas court bars government crackdown on users". CNN. 23 June 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  32. ^ "Nigeria says in talks with Twitter after suspension". France 24. 6 July 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  33. ^ "40 days of Twitter ban: FG's projected tax earnings undermined by fewer users". The Guardian Nigeria. 15 July 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  34. ^ "Updated: Nigeria to lift ban on Twitter in a 'few days' - Minister". 15 September 2021. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  35. ^ "Nigerian gov't says Twitter ban to end 'very soon'". Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Updated: Buhari restates condition for lifting Twitter ban". 1 October 2021. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  37. ^ "President Buhari announce lift of Twitter ban, wit conditions". BBC News Pidgin. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Buhari orders conditional lifting of Twitter ban". Punch Newspapers. 1 October 2021. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  39. ^ "Nigeria lifts more than six-month long suspension of Twitter". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 12 January 2022. Retrieved 12 January 2022.