Nigeria’s Twitter ban: The people risking arrest to tweet

Nigeria’s Twitter ban

Nigeria’s Twitter ban: Many Nigerians have been continuing to tweet in defiance of government threats to arrest and prosecute anyone violating the ban it imposed on Twitter.

They are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the ban after telecommunications companies heeded the government’s directive and blocked the micro-blogging site.

Gbenga Sesan of the Paradigm Initiative, which offers digital opportunities to young people across Africa, said the government’s ban had backfired.

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The ban was announced on Friday. After the government alleged that the micro-blogging site was being used to undermine “Nigeria’s corporate existence”. Through the spreading of fake news that has “violent consequences”.

It drew an angry reaction from many Nigerians and Western powers who saw it as a threat to civil liberties. But the government was unrepentant, leaving Twitter officially blocked in Africa’s most populous state.

Nigeria's Twitter ban: The people risking arrest to tweet
Nigeria’s Twitter ban: The people risking arrest to tweet

So can you be arrested for tweeting in Nigeria?

Some legal experts say they are unaware of any law which makes it illegal to tweet. But others say police can arrest alleged violators because of the sweeping powers given to them under national security legislation.

Security personnel in Nigeria have been known to zealously enforce government orders even when there is no legal clarity, as in this case.

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For his part, Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami has been coy. Saying people will know what offence they have committed only when they are arraigned in court.

The government has not spoken of any arrests. But there are unconfirmed reports of people being stopped and their phones searched for the Twitter app in some parts of Nigeria.

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