The Nigerian government has explained how it negotiated with Twitter to lift the suspension it placed on the operation of the micro-blogging platform in June 2021 after it removed a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture made the explanation in reaction to claims by a former staff of the platform Twitter staff that Twitter
did not negotiate with the Nigerian Government in the wake of its suspension in the country.
The Minister spoke at the commencement of the 13th edition of the ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’, featuring the Minister of Women Affairs on Monday.
The PMB Administration Scorecard Series was lauched on October 19th 2022 to showcase and document the achievements of the Buhari Administration.
However, speaking before the commencement of Monday edition, Mohammed reacted the allegation credited to a former Twitter staff that Twitter did not negotiate with the Nigerian Government in the wake of the suspension of the microblogging site, describing the claim as “ludicrous that one could just have ignored it.”
However, the Minister who said he decided to respond to the claim since it has been making the rounds online maintained there was a long-drawn negotiation between the Nigerian government at the micro blogging site following the suspension of the platform on June 4th 2021.
He said the negotiation was at the instance of Twitter.
According to him, the negotiation of Nigerian government with the owners of the platform began on June 11th 2021 with a letter to President Buhari from Twitter’s Vice President in charge of Public Policy, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sinead McSweeney.
He said McSweeney had asked for meeting with the Nigerian government over Twitter suspension.
“That letter kick-started a number of activities that culminated in the extensive negotiation,” the Minister said while displaying a copy of that letter.
“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 Honourable Minister of Justice, Honourable Ministers of Communications and Digital Economy; Foreign Affairs as well as Works and Housing, Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency,” he said.
The Minister added that after the composition of our team, Nigerian government we received another letter rom a group, Albright Stonebridge Group, at the behest of Twitter which also listed names of the team from the company that will enter into discussion with Nigeria.
He said the team was headed by Sinead Sweeney, Twitter’s Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa and also included 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.
Mohammed said the negotiation between the Nigerian and Twitter team eventually lead to the lifting of operations of Twitter in the country in January, 2022
“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,” the Minister said.