The Federal government has accused the Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, of being liable for some of the losses recorded during the #ENDSARS protest in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the allegation on Tuesday.
The Minister, who featured on “Politics Nationwide,’’ a Radio Nigeria call-in programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, reiterated the government’s position that it would not tolerate any platform that would be used to destabilise the country.
“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 property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
“164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organisation were looted while 243 public property were looted.
“81 warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by Lagos state government were burnt to ashes.”
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 Nigerian companies, obtain license from the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) and be guided by the rules of the licensing as well as pay taxes.
According to the minister, regulation of social media platforms is becoming a global practice.
He said most countries were just waking up to the fact that the platforms were becoming more powerful than even government and needed to be regulated.
“Singapore, Algeria, Pakistan, Turkey regulate the social media, Australia has done so.
” Even EU that does not have particular laws on social media has made recommendations in a white paper,” he said.
The minister said that the UK initiated a new law which would make social media companies to be fined up to 18 million pounds (about N10.8 billion) if they failed to stamp out online abuses.
He said Google was fined 220 million Euros (about N110 billion) on June 7 by French Competition Regulator for abusing its dominance in the online advertising market in France.
Similarly, the minister said the Federal Cabinet of Pakistan had approved a new set of rules to regulate social media.
In the rules, according to the minister, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even TikTok were to register and open offices in Pakistan.
He said in compliance with the new online broadcasting rule of Turkey, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video had obtained licences from that country’s broadcasting authority.
Mohammed noted that regulation of the social media was not synonymous with stifling press freedom.
“We must not confuse press freedom with irresponsibility. How can you stay in your country and allow your own platform to be used to propagate war in another country?”
“The suspension of Twitter is to ensure that no particular platform is used to cause war in Nigeria.
“Secondly, to ensure that whoever is making money in Nigeria must be made to pay tax. Our appeal to Nigerians is that they should understand where we are coming from.
“We have no intention to stifle people’s freedom or to cut off the source of livelihood of anybody.
“There must be a country devoid of war before we can talk of freedom and a source of living,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the Federal Government on June 4 suspended indefinitely the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.
Mohammed, who announced the suspension, cited the persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
He said the federal government had also directed the NBC to immediately commence the process of licensing all Over the Top (OTT) and social media operations in the country (NAN)