The Nigerian government’s claim in January 2022 that it lifted the six-month suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country because the tech company had agreed to meet its six conditions is false, a former member of Twitter’s senior executive team said. .
Peiter “Mudge” Zatko made the disclosure to the US Federal Trade Commission under Whistleblower Aid. Zatko’s lawyers confirmed that he was employed as a “security leader,” a member of the senior executive team responsible for information security, privacy, physical security, information technology, and the Twitter service (the corporate division responsible for of the global content moderation application) on Twitter. , Inc. from November 16, 2020 until the morning of January 19, 2022, when CEO Parag Agrawal terminated his employment.
In the disclosure report, Zatko alleged that after blocking Twitter in June 2021, the Nigerian government continued to falsely claim that it was in negotiations with Twitter executives.
“Twitter’s failure to correct the false record in many reported non-existent discussions with the Nigerian government allowed Nigeria to negotiate unilaterally through the media and dictate unfavorable terms for final rulings,” the report read.
Following the ban declaration on Twitter, the Nigerian government, through Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said it had committed to the leadership of the microblogging platform. Subsequently, the government formed a presidential committee to engage Twitter in exploring the possibility of solving the problem.
The problems that the government wanted to solve bordered on national security and cohesion; registration, physical presence and representation; fair taxes; conflict resolution; and local content. The presidential committee was headed by Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
BusinessDay has contacted NITDA’s corporate affairs department for comment on the Whistleblower Aid report. An agency spokesman insisted that the federal government had an agreement but would prefer to confirm with higher authorities for an official position. The agency has not yet provided a response at the time of publishing this report.
However, BusinessDay recalls that the statement announcing the lifting of the ban on Twitter came from Abdullahi’s office.
“Twitter agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgment of Nigerian law and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and to work with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the broader industry to develop an online Code of Conduct in line with the best global practices. , applicable in almost all developed countries”, he had said.
More than 10 months later, Twitter has still not confirmed the deal. In October, BusinessDay contacted the company for confirmation on when it would establish a presence in the country. A Twitter spokesperson said there were no talks about establishing any presence in the country.
Zatko’s latest revelation can only confirm the concerns many experts had about the alleged deal.
“Twitter’s deliberate decision to refrain from correcting misinformation about Twitter’s proposed negotiations with the Nigerian government directly harmed Twitter shareholders. Allowing the Nigerian government to impose various conditions on the platform undermined the free expression rights and democratic accountability of Nigerian citizens,” the report says.