Ex-Twitter chief says Nigeria lied about negotiating with company during monthslong ban

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Twitter did not negotiate with President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to overturn the microblogging site’s seven-month ban earlier this year, said a whistleblower complaint filed by Twitter’s former security head, Peiter Mudge Zatko.

“The Nigerian government blocked Twitter in June 2021, then falsely claimed to be in negotiations with Twitter executives; Twitter’s failure to correct the false record on many reported non-existent discussions with the Nigerian government permitted Nigeria to negotiate unilaterally through media and dictate unfavourable terms for final resolution,” stated the whistleblower document which exposed the violations, material misrepresentations and fraud by Twitter Inc.

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The information in the document runs counter to statements by information minister Lai Mohammed, who repeatedly claimed the regime was in talks with Twitter about lifting the ban.

In the Protected Whistleblower Disclosure, Mr Zatko stressed that Twitter did not refute the minister’s report, thus encouraging misinformation through their silence and giving the Buhari regime a chance to stifle free speech.

“Twitter’s deliberate decision to refrain from correcting misinformation about Twitter’s proposed negotiations with the Nigerian government directly harmed Twitter shareholders,” the document claimed, “permitting the Nigerian government to impose various conditions on the platform harmed free expression rights and democratic accountability for Nigerian citizens.”

Twitter did not immediately return requests seeking comments and clarity on the matter.

Mr Mohammed also had yet to respond to messages of enquiry sent to his telephone.

The Buhari regime had restricted the social network’s operations in Nigeria after a violence-inciting tweet was deleted from the president’s handle in June 2021.

Mr Buhari had threatened genocide against the Igbo-dominated South-East in the tweet that violated Twitter’s policy on violence and abusive behaviour.

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