MTN, AIRTEL, GLO, others face risk of huge losses blocking Twitter in Nigeria

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Major telecommunications operators in Nigeria, among which MTN, AIRTEL, GLO, and others, on Saturday reluctantly complied with the directives of the Nigerian government to block Twitter in the country and deny access to users of the social media platform as a high risk of financial losses. National Daily inquiry revealed that while the telecommunications companies could block Twitter in Nigeria, they may not deny certain users access to twitter services.

National Daily investigation further revealed that majority Twitter users in the country are the elite, the rich and celebrities who have sufficient funds to resort to alternative channels to access Twitter without relying on the telecom operators in Nigeria. Indeed, as the telecom operators complied with the directives of the Nigerian government to block access to Twitter on Saturday, many users were said to have used Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access the microblogging websites for their social media activities on twitter. This renders the Twitter ban by the Nigerian government ineffective and of no consequence to users, while the telecoms operators in the country lose daily income from the blocking of twitter.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Saturday directed the DPPF to prosecute offenders of the twitter ban in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian government banned Twitter operations in the country which the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has declared is not backed by any known law, but the government did not ban the use of twitter in Nigeria. while the service providers have complied with government order to block twitter, many users are using alternative channels to access the services.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) on Saturday declared that its members have received directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, for indefinite suspension of access to Twitter in the country.

ALTON President, Gbenga Adebayo, in a statement on Saturday, indicated the association’s confirmation of the receipt of formal instructions from NCC, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.

Adebayo declared: “ALTON has also conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.

“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of NCC, the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.”

The ALTON President expressed reservations that while the operators remain committed to supporting the Nigerian government and upholding the rights of citizens, as an industry, ALTON endorsed the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. Adebayo maintained that the UN communication treaty include respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.

The ALTON President was not oblivion of the business misfortune the Twitter indefinite suspension by the Nigerian government will cause the telecoms operators from the market being shut down from the ban in the country.