Nigerian broadcasters, TVC, Channels, NTA have started complying with a government directive that criminalized the use of Twitter in the country.

Broadcasters in Lagos, including TVC and Channels, have joined state-run NTA to stop distributing their contents to Twitter since Saturday afternoon. Radio stations, including Nigeria Info and Cool FM, have also stopped sharing posts or engaging with their audience on Twitter.

The government’s directive has been widely condemned as draconian, primitive and unconstitutional by Nigerians and foreign missions with diplomatic ties with Nigeria, including the European Union, United States, Sweden and Canada.

Most media outlets in Nigeria have disregarded the ban and continue to share content on the microblogging platform, citing a lack of constitutional backing for its issuance. Broadcasters like AIT and Arise have also defied the government’s directive as of Sunday evening.

Management officials at Channels, TVC, NTA and Nigeria info did not return requests seeking comments. But some top officials at Channels and Cool FM said under anonymity that they decided to pull the plug on Twitter in order not to attract the wrath of the administration.

“We had to play it safe because it might be too costly if they come after us,” an official at Cool FM said.

“It is the right thing to do, even though the order is illegal, we cannot disobey compliance,” a Channels TV senior official said, pleading strict anonymity. “We have to obey first then we can look at coming together to challenge it in court.”

TVC, Channels, NTA, Other Broadcasters Comply With Twitter Ban

The development marked the first time in Nigeria’s democratic history that private stations will restrict their business visibilities on the account of a government’s directive, which was issued via a press release rather than a thoroughly debated and passed legislation.

The government proscribed Twitter use in Nigeria a day after the social media firm removed some tweets of President Muhammadu Buhari that apparently threatened genocide against Igbo people in Nigeria’s South-East. A spokesperson for the president said the tweets were intended as a warning to separatist IPOB agitators accused of lawlessness across the region.

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