‘It’s not true’ — Lai Mohammed counters whistleblower’s claim that FG didn’t negotiate with Twitter

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Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says the federal government negotiated with Twitter to lift the suspension of its operations in the country.

Mohammed said the clarification became necessary to counter a report which quoted a former Twitter employee as claiming there were no negotiations before the seven-month ban was lifted.

Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko, the former Twitter employee, recently made the allegation to the US Federal Trade Commission.

In June 2021, the federal government announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operation after the platform deleted tweets made by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had threatened to treat members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the “language they understand”.

The suspension was eventually lifted in January 2022.

While speaking on Monday at the 13th edition of the administration’s scorecard in Abuja on Monday, the minister said there “was a long-drawn negotiation between Nigeria and Twitter, at the instance of the latter”.

“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,” he said.

 “That letter kick-started a number of activities that culminated in the extensive negotiation. A copy of that letter is displayed on the screens here and will be made available to gentlemen of the press.

“After the letter, the federal government announced its team to discuss with Twitter.

“The team, chaired by the minister of information and culture, also comprised the attorney-general of the federation and honourable minister of justice, honourable ministers of communications and digital economy; foreign affairs as well as works and housing, honourable minister of state for labour and employment and the director-general, National Intelligence Agency.

“The back-and-forth negotiation 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.”

 

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