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FG may suspend WhatsApp, Facebook, others over national security

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Federal Government has disclosed that it would not hesitate in wielding big sticks against all social media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, among others in line with its commitment to protect the country from disintegration.

It clarified that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was ready to pull necessary plug and take important decisions in keeping the country as whole and protecting its territorial integrity against internal and external forces, including rising influence of social media platforms being used by divisive elements.

The Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who made the federal government’s position known, stated that the administration was ready to suspend social media companies allowing their platforms to be used in propagating division of the country through inflammatory rhetorics or posts disguised as free speech.

Justifying the government’s suspension of American microblogging site, Twitter, operation in Nigeria before the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Information, Justice, and Communication yesterday at the National Assembly in Abuja, the minister reiterated the Buhari’s administration commitment to deal with divisive elements through careful and timely decision that would neutralised all loopholes been exploited by agents of disunity.

He assured that the government would not hesitate to suspend other social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google hangout, and others if they are found to be promoting posts or statements capable of destabilising the country.

According to him, Twitter operation was suspend after it was established that the social media company made its platform available as a choice for people who want to destabilise and cause disunity in Nigeria.

The minister insisted that the platform would not be allowed to operate until such times it dialogue with the government and register properly before approval would be granted for it resumption of operations across Nigeria.

On whether any channel of dialogue had been opened with Twitter, the minister said “we tried to but they rebuffed us. They are not known to us. They are not registered, but we hope we will be able to engage them.”

The minister also clarified that contrary to insinuations from different quarters, the suspension of Twitter was not aimed at stifling free speech and press freedom across the country but taken to protect the unity been enjoyed in Nigeria.

“There was no intention of the federal government to stifle free speech in the country. The only reason we suspended Twitter is that it was promoting disunity. Its activities are inimical to the unity of the country,” Mohammed insisted.

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