Nigeria’s broadcast regulator began drafting new rules that will require Twitter Inc. to have a license to operate, after the government banned the platform in the West African nation, the country’s government said.
The National Broadcasting Commission ordered all broadcasters to suspend “patronage of Twitter immediately” and stop using the social media company as a “source of information gathering for news and programs,” according to a statement published on Facebook on Monday.
“It will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronize the suspended Twitter as a source of its information, therefore strict compliance is enjoined,” the NBC said. The media regulator’s Twitter handle was still active, with almost 25,000 followers, at 14:00 on Monday.
The order from the NBC follows the government’s banning of Twitter on Friday, after the San Francisco-based company deleted a tweet in which President Muhammadu Buhari threatened to crack down on a separatist rebellion. Information Minister Lai Mohammed directed the commission to order all social media companies and so-called over-the-top media services to apply for permits.
“The commission is currently in the process of carrying out the directive,” Segun Adeyemi, Mohammed’s special assistant on media, said in an emailed response to questions.
Nigeria’s presidency said Saturday that its ban on Twitter was “temporary” and the result of broader grievances than solely the company’s deletion of Buhari’s tweet. Mohammed had earlier characterized the suspension as indefinite, in response to what he called “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
Envoys from the U.S, the U.K, Canada and the European Union were summoned by Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs on Monday over an earlier statement they issued cautioning the government on its action against Twitter, local newspaper Punch reported.
Nigeria’s Foundation for Investigative Journalism reported Sunday that the presidency contacted and met the Cyberspace Administration of China to discuss the possibility of setting up an Internet firewall similar to that found in China. Adeyemi denied the report, describing the story as “absolutely fake.”