Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed is on his way back to Nigeria after embarking on a futile trip to the US.
Mohammed had travelled to meet with top executives of popular microblogging site, Twitter following the suspension of the app in Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government in June.
However, a top source disclosed to SaharaReporters that the trip was a futile one for the minister as he could not meet with Twitter executives and was also shunned by American media.
SaharaReporters last Tuesday exclusively obtained a video showing the minister and Olusegun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, in a Delta Airline heading to the US.
“Lai Mohammed and his PA are returning to Nigeria after failed attempt to meeet Twitter excos and also the American media he claimed he wanted to meet in Washington, D.C. shunned him,” the source said about their trip to the US.
Meanwhile, this newspaper has again obtained the flight details of the duo on Delta Airline to Nigeria.
Information available to SaharaReporters shows Mohammed and Adeyemi are flying First Class, with departure time from JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York) to LOS (Lagos) stated as 9.33pm, though delayed.
At the JFK, the duo will use Gate B38 at Terminal 4 while their arrival time is 12.58pm, though also delayed.
For their arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the duo will make use of Gate D44.
The Buhari-led government on June 5, 2021 indefinitely banned Twitter, restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets posted by Buhari.
Buhari’s tweets, which many Nigerians found distasteful, had warned the Southeastern people of Nigeria against secession agenda, threatening to deal with them “in the language they understand”. His comments referenced the Nigeria Civil War (1967-1970) in which an estimated 2 million South-Easterners died of starvation.
However, the Nigerian government claimed the ban was ultimately based on “a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences”.
It also accused Twitter of threatening the corporate unity of Nigeria.
The ban has been condemned by Amnesty International, Swedish Embassy and the British and Canadian missions in Nigeria.
Domestic organisations including the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have challenged the ban in court.
Sadly, though many Nigerians have bypassed the ban by using Virtual Private Network (VPN), the already battered economy of the country loses a fortune every day to the ban.
For instance, as at August 6, British firm, Top10VPN estimated that the ban had affected around 104.4 million internet users in the country, and cost the country around $366.9 million. The firm made the calculations using a tool developed by internet governance watchdog organisation, Netblocks, and Internet Society, a US advocacy nonprofit. (Sahara Reporters)