Former one-term President Trump backs the Nigerian government’s decision to block access to Twitter in the West African country — and called on more nations to follow suit.
“Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President,” Trump said in an emailed statement. “More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech—all voices should be heard.”
The ban comes after Twitter deleted a Tuesday post by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in which he said he would treat “those misbehaving today” in “the language they understand” — interpreted as a threat of violence against a secessionist movement in the country.
Twitter said the tweet violated its “abusive behavior” policy.
Twitter then was “suspended indefinitely” in the country, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Information and Culture wrote in a Twitter thread.
Residents of Africa’s most populous country who try to use virtual private networks — or VPNs — to get around the ban will be prosecuted.
In response, Twitter said that it was “deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria” and pledged to “restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter.”
Throughout his time in office, the authoritarian leader Buhari has sought to suppress the Nigerian media, including illegally detaining journalists.
In 2016, when an anti-social media bill was introduced in Nigeria’s Senate, Buhari appeared to distance himself from it in order to keep up a pro-democracy image.
But in 2019, when the bill was reintroduced after being thrown out on its first attempt, first lady Aisha Buhari came out in support of it.
Amnesty International condemned the ban, calling on the Nigerian government to “reverse the unlawful suspension and other plans to gag the media, repress the civic space, and undermine Nigerians’ human rights.”
While Buhari’s individual tweet in question was deleted, the president’s account with 4.1 million followers remains online.