Eleven months after the federal government claimed it negotiated with Twitter to establish a physical office in Nigeria and 8 months after the ban was lifted, nothing has been heard or said about it.
The ban on Twitter was lifted on January 2022. A representative of the company in Nigeria said the social media giant has no office in the country yet. This is contrary to a purported agreement Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture claimed it had with the company to open an office by March 2022.
In August 2021, Lai Mohammed said the social media giant has agreed to open an office in Nigeria as part of the conditions to lift the ban placed on its operation in the country in June 2021.
The minister said, “I know that one of the conditions that we set was that Twitter, in line with Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act, should establish a presence in Nigeria with registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission.”
“And we think that’s the only thing, that if you want to do business in Nigeria, you must register first as a Nigerian company, and of course, you must have an address. The Nigerian office is not expected to be operational until 2022 and may be headed by a staff of management cadre that will serve as the country representative,” he said. “Opening the office was one of the conditions Nigeria gave Twitter before its operations could resume in the country.”
BusinessDay findings however showed there was no official statement released by Twitter on reaching a negotiation with the Nigerian government to establish an office in the country.
However, Twitter only responded when the ban was lifted after seven months, applauding the effort of the Nigerian government in lifting the ban placed on the platform and its activities in the country.
The company shared on its policy account that it was pleased with the restoration of its services and operations in Nigeria.
“We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria,” the tweet read. “Our mission in Nigeria and around the world is to serve the public conversation”
Twitter was suspended on 4, June 2021 and was lifted on January 2022.
However, the information minister who appeared on a radio programme, the Radio Link, in Abuja in February, 2022 stated that Twitter is expected to open its Nigerian office before the end of March 2022, which is part of the agreement reached in 2021 to have the ban lifted.
“Twitter also agreed to comply with all payable taxes, as they are operating under Nigerian laws and this they agreed to do within one week of restoring their operations. Twitter agreed to immediately work with the Federal Government in the area of code of conduct that was in line with global best practices” he said.
Mohammed explained that the intention of the Nigerian government to regulate the platform was initiated by the desire to sanitise the platform and not in any way to resist freedom of speech and expression as many people think.
According to him, “We are going to regulate social media not because we want to stifle the media or we want to violate the right of expression. We want to ensure that only wholesome contents are available on social media.”
Also, the proposal of opening a Twitter office in Nigeria in line with the negotiations between the government and the company came a month after the social media company launched its headquarters in Ghana.
Other conditions that accompanied the establishment of a new office in Nigeria as negotiated by both parties include Register in Nigeria, appointing a designated country representative, complying with tax obligations in Nigeria, enrolling Nigeria in its portal for direct communications between government officials and Twitter to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules and acting with a respectful acknowledgment of Nigerian laws.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence Day broadcast on 1, October 2021, said Twitter must meet the Nigerian government’s five conditions before the suspension of the social media platform will be lifted.
The ban was lifted on 12, January 2022 which has counted eight months till date and the office has not been established in the country.