The Federal Government has attributed losses suffered by governments, private sectors, business owners, and ordinary citizens across Nigeria during last year’s protest against police brutality to open support and endorsement given to the demonstrations by microblogging site, Twitter, and its founder, Jack Dorsey.
It added that the social media company and its founder are vicariously liable for the losses the country suffered during the EndSARS protest and that the American outfit support emboldened the violence, killing, arson, looting that marred the process.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, alleged that Dorsey raised funds through Bitcoins to sponsor the EndSARS protest while his platform, Twitter, was used to fuel the crisis.
Speaking on Tuesday on a popular radio programme in Abuja, the minister maintained that when he made the allegations earlier, Nigerians did not take him seriously until an online media outfit carried out an investigation and fact-checking.
The minister said that the online publication confirmed that Dorsey retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalitions supporting the EndSARS protest and that it was also confirmed that the Twitter founder launched fundraising asking people to donate via Bitcoins.
Mohammed said that Dorsey further launched Emoji to make the EndSARS protest visible on the microblogging site while also retweeting the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of EndSARS.
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest. We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisation were looted while 243 public property were looted. 81 warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by Lagos State Government were burnt to ashes,’’ he said.
The minister said that it was unfair to conclude that the operation of Twitter was suspended indefinitely because it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s message, adding that the government was unambiguous that the action was taken because the platform was being used to promote the views of those who wanted to destabilise the country.
Mohammed added that Twitter consistently offered its platform to promote agendas that were inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Twitter has become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter. The promoter consistently used the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run-down INEC offices, and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Every attempt to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader was not taken seriously,’’ he said.
The minister said that the apex government has no apology to offer to those unhappy over the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country, stressing that the country must exist in peace before people could exercise freedom of speech and fight for a source of livelihood.