Twitter sought negotiation with FG before ban was lifted – Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has revealed that Twitter negotiated with the Federal Government after the micro-blogging platform was suspended in the country.

According to Mohammed who was speaking in Abuja on Monday, the negotiations were at the request of Twitter.

The information minister was reacting to a claim by a former senior Twitter official that there was no negotiation between the company and Nigeria before the ban on the platform was lifted.

Mohammed said: “This claim is so ludicrous that one could have ignored it. But the claim has continued to make the rounds online, hence our decision to clarify things. After all, it is said that if a lie is repeated often enough, people will believe it.

“Without mincing words, let me say that there was a long-drawn negotiation between Nigeria and Twitter, at the instance of the latter, following the suspension of the platform on June 4th, 2021 because of its persistent use for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

“Seven days after the suspension, precisely on June 11th 2021, we received a letter, addressed to Mr. President, from Twitter’s Vice President in charge of Public Policy, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Sinead McSweeney, seeking to meet with us on the Twitter suspension. That letter kick-started a number of activities that culminated in extensive negotiation.

“After the letter, the Federal Government announced its team to discuss with Twitter. The team, chaired by the Minister of Information and Culture, also comprised the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Ministers of Communications and Digital Economy; Foreign Affairs as well as Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency.

“Following the composition of our team, we received another letter from a group, Albright Stonebridge Group, which apparently was working at the behest of Twitter. The letter (which is also projected on the screens and is available to the media) named the Twitter team to enter into a discussion with Nigeria.

“The team was headed by Sinead Sweeney, Twitter’s Vice President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, whom I mentioned earlier; Karen White, Senior Director, Public Policy, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa; Ronan Costello, Senior Public Policy Manager, Africa, Europe, Middle East; Emmanuel Lubanzadio, Head of Public Policy, Sub-Saharan Africa; Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel, and Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Senior Adviser, Albright Stonebridge Group.

“The back-and-forth negotiation culminated in a series of agreements that paved the way for the lifting of the Twitter suspension in January this year. Gentlemen, with the facts that we have supplied, you can now see that the fellow who reportedly alleged that Twitter did not negotiate with Nigeria is either being economical with the truth or didn’t even understand the workings of the company where he worked.”

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