Following a report making the rounds that the current ban is possibly over in the West African country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in exercise of its telecoms regulatory mandate, has clarified that the suspension of Twitter operations is still in effect, and there is no communication otherwise from the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in Abuja, FCT.
Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, disclosed this development, The Punch report said.
Recall the telecoms regulator in the country had sent a memo to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to Twitter for the ban imposed by the Federal Government to take effect since Friday, June 4, 2021.
However, some Nigerians Wednesday, September 1, 2021, had reported accessing to the microblogging site and social media platform without the Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on their laptops.
But the reported access to Twitter has only been on Internet Service Providers’ networks, and not through the mobile networks, according to report.
Report quoting a source in an ISP company said: “The way blocking works when it comes to the network; a specific site or server or URL will be put under a blacklist.
Or an instruction will be given to block traffic going to or coming from a certain server. So, a router that sits in between serves as a blockade rather than work as a go through; it will block it.”
The source further stated: “Depending on the technology deployed, there might be loopholes. A problem could be as regards implementation.
“It can create a loophole, a human error.”
The Federal Government has said it suspended the operations or activities of the global technology giant “indefinitely” June 4, days after the microblogging site deleted a tweet by the President Muhammadu Buhari, which it stated had violated its user regulations.
The Government later approached a Federal High Court in Lagos that it had not stopped Nigerian consumers from using Twitter.
In confirming the blockage of Twitter operations in the country, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has announced that the directive to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria came from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, President, and Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga, Executive Secretary of ALTON, in a joint statement late June 2021 titled, “Order to Suspend Access to Twitter”, late July had cited a formal instruction from the Nigerian Government to suspend Twitter’s operations.
The statement said: “We, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.
“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the directive in accordance with internationally accepted principles.”
The Association also noted: “Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator.
“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.
We remain committed to supporting the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.”
Presidential committee to negotiate with Twitter
President Buhari also set up a committee consisting of five ministers to negotiate with Twitter with Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister for Information and Culture, as the Head of the committee.
The Minister announced that the committee negotiating with Twitter would soon arrive at an agreement.
According to Mohammed, “everything will be ironed out with Twitter within a few days or weeks.”
One of the conditions set by the government for lifting the ban is that Twitter should register with the Companies and Allied Matters Act, and establish a physical presence in Nigeria.
The Federal Government also hopes to get the company to commit itself to working with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
If you make money from Nigeria, you pay taxes according to Nigerian laws,” the Minister declared.
Twitter makes money from advertising, data licensing and others. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the tech company generated $556.15million from revenues outside the United States (US), report said.
In Q1 2021, it generated $479.79m. In Q2 2021, it generated $537.35m outside the US.
According to Statista, Nigeria has about 33 million active social media users, with about 26 per cent on Twitter.
In terms of the aggregate loss the country has lost since the ban began early June this year, Nigeria has lost N220.36billion, based on the analysis by NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool.
According to the tool, it costs Nigeria’s economy N103.17million ($250,600) every hour to ban Twitter.
It has been 2,136 hours since the government banned Twitter operations in the country.