Nigeria: Federal Govt Releases Proofs of Negotiation With Twitter

The Federal Government has said it negotiated with microblogging service, Twitter, in the wake of its suspension in Nigeria, refuting allegation by a former Twitter staff that the micro-blogging site did not negotiate with the Nigerian government.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Monday at the 13th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023) which featured the Minister of Women Affairs, Paulen Tallen.

Mohammed while discrediting the claim, also released to the media the proof of the negotiations with the government.

During the briefing, a copy of the letter was not only displayed on the screens at the briefing but also made available to journalists.

Recalled that on June 4, 2021, Twitter operation was suspended in the country following the micro-blogging site’s persistent use of activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence

Contrary to the claim by the former Twitter worker, the minister said there was a long-drawn negotiation between Nigeria and Twitter, at the instance of the latter, following the suspension of the platform.

He said seven days after the suspension, precisely on June 11, 2021, the government received a letter, addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari from Twitter’s vice president in charge of Public Policy, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Sinead McSweeney, seeking to meet with the government on the Twitter suspension.

He said, “That letter kick-started a number of activities that culminated in the extensive negotiation.”

Mohammed said after receiving the letter, the federal government announced its team to discuss with Twitter.

“I chaired the team which comprised the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Ministers of Communications and Digital Economy and Foreign Affairs,” he said.

He said other members of the team were the Minister of Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency.

Mohammed said following the composition of the team, they received another letter from a group, Albright Stonebridge Group, which was working at the behest of Twitter.

The minister said Twitter also set up a team headed by Sinead Sweeney, Twitter’s Vice President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, to enter into discussion with the government.

Other members of the Twitter team, according to the minister included, Karen White, Senior Director, Public Policy, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa; Ronan Costello, Senior Public Policy Manager, Africa, Europe, and Middle East;

Also on the Twitter team were Emmanuel Lubanzadio, Head of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa; Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel, and Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Senior Adviser, Albright Stonebridge Group.

“The back-and-forth negotiations culminated in a series of agreements that paved the way for the lifting of 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,” he said.

The minister said he released the proofs following requests from the media seeking response to the allegation by the former Twitter worker and to set the records straight.

On her part, Tallen listed some collaboration with relevant stakeholders to develop and implement economic programmes for women.

Tallen said the Ministry has also activated amendment of legislation to ensure gender equality.

She also said that the Ministry of Women Affairs collaborated with the Ministry of Health to eradicate harmful practices to women and girls, including female genital mutilation.

She added that the Ministry has also led the advocacy for domestication of the Child Rights Act (CRA) in all states of the federation.

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