Suspension: Twitter started negotiation contrary to its claim – Lai Mohammed

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Abuja, Dec. 19, 2022 – Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, on Monday said that Twitter started the negotiation for lifting its suspension from Nigeria contrary to its recent claims.

Mohammed said this while reacting to a claim by a former senior Twitter official that there was no negotiation between the company and Nigeria to rescind its suspension on Twitter.

The minister told journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Monday that such denial by Twitter was ludicrous.

“This claim is so ludicrous that one could have ignored it. But the claim has continued to make the rounds online, hence our decision to clarify things. After all, it is said that if a lie is repeated often enough, people will believe it.

“Without mincing words, let me say that there was a long-drawn negotiation between Nigeria and Twitter at the instance of the latter following the suspension of the platform on June 4th, 2021 because of its persistent use for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

“Seven days after the suspension, precisely on June 11th 2021, we received a letter addressed to Mr. President from Twitter’s Vice President in charge of Public Policy, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sinead McSweeney seeking to meet with us on the Twitter suspension.

“That letter kick-started a number of activities that culminated in extensive negotiation.

“After the letter, the Federal Government announced its team to discuss with Twitter.

“The team, chaired by the Minister of Information and Culture, also comprised the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Ministers of Communications and Digital Economy; Foreign Affairs as well as Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency.

“Following the composition of our team, we received another letter from a group, Albright Stonebridge Group, which apparently was working at the behest of Twitter.

“The letter (which is also projected on the screens and is available to the media) named the Twitter team to enter into a discussion with Nigeria.

“The team was headed by Sinead Sweeney, Twitter’s Vice President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, whom I mentioned earlier; Karen White, Senior Director, Public Policy, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa; Ronan Costello, Senior Public Policy Manager, Africa, Europe, Middle East; Emmanuel Lubanzadio, Head of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa; Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel, and Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Senior Adviser, Albright Stonebridge Group.

“The back-and-forth negotiation culminated in a series of agreements that paved the way for the lifting of the Twitter suspension in January this year.

“Gentlemen, with the facts that we have supplied, you can now see that the fellow who reportedly alleged that Twitter did not negotiate with Nigeria is either being economical with the truth or didn’t even understand the workings of the company where he worked.”

Twitter was banned from Nigeria on June 5, 2021 after it deleted tweets made by President Buhari that the Indigenous People of Biafra “will be treated in the treated in the language they understand.” (GBN)

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