After losses for the country in 118 days, the President of Nigeria sets conditions to lift the ban on Twitter

Atlanta, United States (CNN)–During a national broadcast to celebrate Nigeria’s 61st independence, President Muhammadu Buhari praised social media for being a “very useful platform.” However, he said it has lost its way to “a platform for organizing, coordinating and carrying out criminal activities, spreading fake news, and promoting ethnic and religious sentiments”.

This contributed to the federal government’s blocking of Twitter in June, Bukhari said. He added that a committee set up to resolve the dispute agreed that the social media company must resolve four critical issues before the ban is lifted.

Bukhari noted that the committee, along with its technical team, engaged with Twitter and addressed a number of key issues, namely: “national security and cohesion. Registration, physical presence and representation; fair taxation, conflict resolution and local content.”

“As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use its platform to improve the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty and cultural values, and enhance online safety,” the Nigerian president added.

Bukhari said that some of the conditions that Twitter must meet include setting up an office in the country and registering for taxation by the government.

These conditions were previously set in August by the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lay Mohamed.

CNN has reached out to Twitter for comment on the president’s remarks.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian civil rights group rejected what it called the “conditional lifting” of the ban on Twitter.

“We reject the ‘conditional’ lifting of the ban on Twitter in Nigeria by the Buhari administration,” the Social and Economic Rights Accountability Project group said in a Friday tweet.

“President Buhari must immediately and unconditionally lift the illegal Twitter suspension and allow Nigerians to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression,” the tweet read.

The Twitter ban in June came days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from the president that many considered offensive.

In a tweet, Buhari threatened citizens in the southeastern region after attacks on public property.

“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to realize the devastation and loss of life that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War,” he said.

He added, referring to the civil war between Nigeria and Biafra, which is estimated to have killed at least one million people.

According to Internet Freedom Watch’s Netblocks tool, the ban has cost Nigeria more than $709 million in the past 118 days.

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