The Nigerian government has said it was not aware of the controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari last month that was deleted by the microblogging platform.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the federal government in a counter-affidavit filed before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in response to a suit instituted by a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said they were unaware of the tweet.
Joined as first to third respondents in the suit are the AGF, the Minister of Information, and the Federal Government.
“The first and third respondents are not aware of any tweet purportedly emanating from President Muhammadu Buhari which Twitter investigated and found that it violated Twitter rules and that Twitter did not consider it proper to inform the third respondent of such,” read the counter-affidavit deposed to by Ilop Lawrence, a litigant at the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the AGF and FG.
President Buhari had in June tweeted; “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The post was massively reported by Nigerians who saw it as inciting and insensitive, hence it was swiftly brought down by Twitter.
Two days after Twitter deleted Buhari’s post, the Nigerian government announced it had banned the microblogging site for allegedly promoting insurrection in the country.
In its counter-affidavit before the court, the Nigerian government argued that “Twitter had become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter who constantly use the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run down government structures and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty.”
“Every attempt by the defendant to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and was not (sic) taken seriously.”
The government also said the violence that erupted during last year’s #EndSARS protests was sponsored by Twitter and its founder, Jack Dorsey.
The respondents maintained that despite the ban on Twitter, Nigerians have continued to use the site every day.
They added that they would not continue to suspend the use of the microblogging site in the Nigerian cyberspace once Twitter is able to and has complied with Nigerian laws as required for it to inter alia to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission.