Lai Mohammed says Twitter begged Nigeria to lift suspension

by Amos Kalu

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The government of Nigeria has stated that Twitter and the country engaged in lengthy negotiations before Twitter was reinstated in the country late last year.

In response to a claim by a former top Twitter official that there was no dialogue between the business and Nigeria to remove its suspension on Twitter, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed made the explanation.

At a Monday morning press conference in Abuja, Mohammed said it was ridiculous to try to deny what had happened between the two sides.

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The Minister stated, “This claim is so ludicrous that one could just have ignored it. But the claim has continued to make the rounds online, hence our decision to clarify things; after all, it is said that if a lie is repeated often enough, people will believe it.

“Without mincing words, let me say that there was a long-drawn negotiation between Nigeria and Twitter, at the instance of the latter, following the suspension of the platform on June 4th, 2021, because of its persistent use for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

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“Seven days after the suspension, precisely on June 11th, 2021, we received a letter, addressed to Mr. President, from Twitter’s Vice President in charge of Public Policy, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Sinead McSweeney, seeking to meet with us on the Twitter suspension.”

That letter set a chain of events in motion that led to intensive bargaining.

The federal government then announced a team to negotiate with Twitter after receiving the letter. The team, led by the Minister of Information and Culture, included the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Honourable Minister of Justice, the Honourable Ministers of Communications and the Digital Economy, Foreign Affairs, and Works and Housing, as well as the Honourable Minister of State for Labor and Employment.

” Following the composition of our team, we received another letter from a group, Albright Stonebridge Group, which apparently was working at the behest of Twitter. The letter (also projected on the screens and available to the media) named the Twitter team to enter into a discussion with Nigeria. The team was headed by Sinead Sweeney, Twitter’s Vice President for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, whom I mentioned earlier; Karen White, Senior Director, Public Policy, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa; Ronan Costello, Senior Public Policy Manager Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; Head of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa, Emmanuel Lubanzadio; Deputy General Counsel, Jim Baker; Senior Adviser, Albright Stonebridge Group, Ambassador Johnnie Carson.

“The back-and-forth negotiation culminated in a series of agreements that paved the way for lifting the Twitter suspension in January this year. Gentlemen, with the facts that we have supplied, you can now see that the fellow who reportedly alleged that Twitter did not negotiate with Nigeria is either being economical with the truth or didn’t even understand the workings of the company where he worked,” Mohammed said.

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