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Twitter ban: ATCON seeks speedy resolution

.as Nigerians continue usage via VPN

Telecommunications operators under the aegis of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has said it is working with the government and relevant stakeholders to ensure a speedy resolution of the current suspension of Twitter activities in Nigeria. The President of ATCON, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, who disclosed this, noted that while the Association and its member Companies understand the position of the Federal Government, the reasons for the directive, and have complied with the directive, it is pertinent that the issue is resolved soon in the interest of all.

He emphasised that the OTT platforms of which Twitter is one, is an integral part of the Digital Economy that the Federal Government is promoting.  “So, when an unfortunate disagreement arises with respect to the user policies, it is good it is resolved in a timely manner,” he said.

Earlier, another umbrella body of the telcos, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) had announced its members’ compliance with the government’s directives to block Twitter over their networks.  According to a statement issued by the association, the compliance was in line with the terms of their licence.

“We wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter. ALTON has 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 the Nigerian Communications Commisison (NCC) the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC. We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens,” ALTON said in the statement.

The telcos, however, noted that “as an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online. This includes 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.”

Meanwhile, hours after the enforcement of the ban by the telecom operators, many Nigerians have remained active on the microblogging site, Twitter. This is possible through the use of virtual private networks (VPN) applications, which disguise the users’ IP address as emanating from other countries of the world rather than Nigeria. With these VPN apps, many Nigerians are not feeling the impacts of the ban, which has forced President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison his 4.1 million followership on the social site.

Before the enforcement of the ban, the President’s wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari, with hundreds of thousands followers had also deactivated her Twitter account. While several government officials, ministries, agencies, and departments, had consistently used the platform to pass messages across to Nigerians, the ban has shut them out of the system.


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