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Fed. Govt, Twitter close to agreement

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The Federal Government and Twitter are planning to seal a deal that will pave the way for the lifting of the indefinite suspension slammed on the United States-micro-blogging platform, it was learnt yesterday.

Two major issues are however, delaying the lifting of the June 4, 2021 ban. They are the timeframe for the opening of an office by Twitter and the appointment of a Nigerian representative.

The two terms were given by the Federal Government as conditions for lifting the indefinite suspension.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed made this known after yesterday’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed said the two parties had agreed on most of the conditions, adding that the suspension would be lifted “in a matter of weeks.”

He however, added that Twitter had insisted that the earliest it could establish an office in Nigeria is 2022.

The minister expressed confidence that everything, including the appointment of a manager by Twitter to serve as its representative in the country, were being discussed.

He said a committee negotiating with Twitter will meet on the agreement soon and make recommendations.

Mohammed added: “I want to say that the end for an amicable solution is very much insight.

“We quite appreciate the anxiety of Nigerians who have been worried that two months after the suspension, we’ve not been able to finalise talks, but I just want to assure you that we have made tremendous progress. And when I say tremendous, really tremendous.

“In a few weeks’ time, we will be able to reach an agreement, I think we just have about two or three areas where there is disagreement and even in these areas, it’s not disagreement, its more about when will they (Twitter) do it.

“We’ve engaged Twitter in writing. We set up a technical committee to engage Twitter. They set up their own committee too; they have met virtually and have exchanged correspondence about three times. Really, apart from dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, we’re actually almost there.

“I don’t want to say that the engagement has been extremely positive, devoid of any acrimony. As a matter of fact, it’s to the credit of Twitter that they admitted that they’ve never received any kind of informed or detailed or professional communication from any country as they have received from us.


“Not only did they promise that they were going to look into it, but we made it very clear what we wanted from Twitter. Even though our report is not ready, even though we’re still expecting more clarifications around some conversation with Twitter, I think I can share with you some of our conditions for reopening of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

Mohammed added: “One of the conditions that we set was that Twitter, in line with Nigeria’s Companies and Allied Matters Act, … is that if you want to do business in Nigeria, you must register first …and have an address.

“We also asked that Twitter shall be mandated to employ a designated country representative. As of today, we are not aware of any Twitter representative in Nigeria. We say that that representative shall be a staff member of Twitter so that he can have access to the global management of Twitter. He will serve as a liaison between Nigeria and Twitter.”

“We also asked Twitter to, in addition to registering the Nigerian company, also register with relevant regulatory authorities like NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency), the NCC (National Communications Commission) and BON( Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria).

“We also asked Twitter to commit itself to work with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“We also proposed to Twitter that we should agree on a charter of online conduct for content management.. We will agree on which content would be acceptable and what is not acceptable. We are very concerned about contents that could jeopardise the security, unity, and safety of Nigeria.

“We also asked that we agree on what is libelous and when such is cited and brought to the attention of Twitter, Twitter should remove or delete such a publication.”

The minister also said that Twitter agree to have an ombudsman and a local compliance centre in Nigeria.

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