The Nigerian government has said it was not aware of the controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari last month that was deleted by the microblogging site.
In a counter-affidavit filed before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in response to a suit instituted by a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the federal government said they were unaware of the tweet.
Joined as first to third respondents in the suit are the AGF, the Minister of Information, and the Federal Government.
“The first and third respondents are not aware of any tweet purportedly emanating from President Muhammadu Buhari which Twitter investigated and found that it violated Twitter rules and that Twitter did not consider it proper to inform the third respondent of such,” read the counter-affidavit deposed to by Ilop Lawrence, a litigant at the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the AGF and FG.
In the wake of the rampant insecurity in the south-eastern part of the country, the president had responded by tweeting that “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Two days after Twitter deleted Mr Buhari’s post, the Nigerian government announced it had banned the microblogging site for allegedly promoting insurrection in the country.
“The mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very very suspect,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said in a statement.
“Has Twitter deleted the violent tweets that Nnamdi Kanu has been sending? Has it? The same Twitter during the ENDSARS protests that was funding ENDSARS protesters, it was the first to close the account of former president of US, Trump.
In its counter-affidavit before the court, the Nigerian government argued that “Twitter had become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter who constantly use the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run down government structures and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty.”
“Every attempt by the defendant to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and was not (sic) taken seriously.”
The government also said the violence that erupted during last year’s #EndSARS protests was sponsored by Twitter and its founder, Jack Dorsey.
The respondents maintained that despite the ban on Twitter, Nigerians have continued to use the site every day.
They added that they would not continue to suspend the use of the microblogging site in the Nigerian cyberspace once Twitter is able to and has complied with Nigerian laws as required for it to inter alia to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission.