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Twitter ban difficult to enforce in Nigeria, say ICT experts

By Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf

Does Nigeria have what it takes to enforce Federal Government’s ‘indefinite suspension’ of Twitter? Some Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts believe it does not.

A cross section of the experts contacted on Friday said Nigeria lacks a central information dissemination system that is required to make a ban work. President, Association of Telecommunications

Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Ikechukwu Nnamani said he received the news with shock and was trying to study the situation to determine what level of intervention is required. Nnamani who is also the Founder/CEO, Medallion Communications Limited, an interconnect clearinghouse and co-location data service company, however, hinted that the Association is already in talks with relevant government agencies to see how the issue can be resolved without any backlash.

But the immediate past President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, said: “From the look of things, it is very clear that the government is trying to regulate the internet and social media.

“Unlike China, which is a communist country and has a central information system, this is not possible in Nigeria.

“As we speak, Twitter is still being accessed; it is not inoperative as we speak. So I think it is a mere wishful thinking on the part of government.”

Read Also: Anger as Buhari suspends Twitter operations in Nigeria

Pressed further, Teniola said: “In the case of Nigeria, it is very difficult to enforce because Twitter doesn’t have a physical office or presence in Nigeria.

“Their office is in Ghana. What obtains is that it is the local technology companies that provide access to their services which people access here.

“Even though the government is desirous of banning the activities of

Twitter, it is powerless in this instance because there are several ways to access Twitter.

“I think the government decision would be weakened by the fact there are several other ways to bypass the ban and easily access their (Twitter) service. So there is really no cause for alarm. The digital world cannot be controlled, because it is a global platform.”

Also reacting to the Twitter suspension, Mr. Akeem Baiyewu, a digital media expert, described it as an exercise in futility.

Waxing philosophical, Baiyewu said the ban on Twitter was tantamount to stopping the wind from blowing.

On what is the likely socioeconomic backlash arising from the ban, Baiyewu said, “It is a mere empty threat by the government and cannot stand the test of time.

“There is no question of whether services would be disrupted. No. People should go about their businesses without any let or hindrance because the ban can’t work here.”

Expatiating, he said: “The whole world is going global and transparency comes with democracy. In today’s world, if you violate any rule, you face the consequence.

“Twitter didn’t impose its rule on the spur of the moment. It has its own rules of engagements which anyone ready to access their services must adhere to. Twitter didn’t force the government to access its services and cannot expect preferential treatment from the social media platform. They (Twitter) made their rules and the federal government joined voluntarily.

“According to Twitter, there was a violation of its rules by the top hierarchy of the federal government and it had to enforce its rule. So, I don’t think Twitter committed any infraction whatsoever.”

How Myanmar enforced Twitter, Instagram ban

Myanmar which joined the likes of China, North Korea and others in banning the social media first blocked Facebook and shortly afterwards ordered mobile networks and internet service providers to block Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram.

The Southeast Asian country’s military seized power in a coup in February, detaining its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with other government officials.

Facebook users had reportedly been using the social media platform to protest the coup, sharing photos of themselves giving the three-finger salute that’s become associated with resistance in the area.

“All mobile operators, international gateways and internet service providers in Myanmar received a directive on 5 February 2021 from the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to, until further notice, block the social media platforms Twitter and Instagram,” Norwegian telecom company Telenor said in a statement late yesterday. The company provides mobile services in Myanmar.

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