The Federal Government says Twitter and its founder, Jack Dorsey, are vicariously liable for the losses the country suffered during the #EndSARS protest. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Tuesday when he featured on ‘Politics Nationwide’, a Radio Nigeria call-in programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Mohammed alleged that Dorsey raised funds through Bitcoins to sponsor the #EndSARS protest while his platform, Twitter, was used to fuel the crisis. He said when he made the allegations earlier, Nigerians did not take him serious until an online media outfit carried out investigation and fact-checking.
The minister said the online publication confirmed that Dorsey retweeted some of the posts by some of the coalitions supporting the #EndSARS protest. He said it was also confirmed that the Twitter founder launched a fund-raising asking people to donate via Bitcoins. The minister said Dorsey further launched an emoji to make the #EndSARS protest visible on the micro blogging site. He said Dorsey also retweeted the tweets of some foreign and local supporters of #EndSARS.
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for #EndSARS protesters, then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest.
“We have forgotten that #EndSARS led to loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians, while properties worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground; 265 private corporate organisations were looted while 243 public properties were looted.
“81 warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by Lagos State government were burnt to ashes,” he said.
The minister said it was unfair to conclude that the operation of Twitter was suspended indefinitely because it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s message. He said the government was unambiguous that the action was taken because the platform was being used to promote the views of those who wanted to destabilise the country. Mohammed added that Twitter consistently offered its platform to promote agenda that were inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Twitter has become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter.
“The promoter consistently used the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run down INEC offices and to destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
“Every attempt to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader was not taken serious,” he said.
The minister said the Federal Government has no apology to offer to those unhappy over the suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country. He said a country must exist in peace before people could exercise freedom of speech and fight for a source of livelihood. Meanwhile, the Federal Government has confirmed that Twitter has formally written to seek dialogue on issues leading to the indefinite suspension of its operations in the country. Mohammed also confirmed this in the radio programme.
“I can confirm that Twitter has written the Federal Government that they are ready to talk.
“As we have always maintained, the door is not locked and we are open-minded but Twitter must work toward it,” he said.
The minister reiterated the government’s position that it would not tolerate any platform that would be used to destabilise the country. Mohammed said among other conditions for Twitter to resume operation in Nigeria, there must be an agreement as to what contents it could post. He said Twitter and other platforms must also register as a Nigerian company, obtain licence from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and be guided by the rules of the licensing as well as pay taxes.