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Nigeria to lift Twitter ban, with conditions

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Twitter could be coming back in Nigeria's good books after four months of banned access in the country. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will lift the country's Twitter ban, but only if the social media company meets certain conditions including setting up a physical presence and paying taxes locally.

The president made the mention during a televised speech for Nigeria's 61st Independence Day anniversary on Friday, saying the suspension could be lifted if Twitter is used for "business and positive engagements."

Nigeria's government ordered mobile operators to block Twitter access in June, days after the social media platform removed a post from President Buhari that violated its abusive behavior policy.

"As we embrace the digital economy in Nigeria, we are fully aware of the prospects and the perils. Our policies have been developed to enable Nigerians to take advantage of the prospects and avoid the perils of digital technologies," Buhari said on Friday.

Buhari said that social media can be a useful platform to help Nigerians connect with loved ones, promote their businesses, socialize and access news and other information.

"However, recent events have shown that the platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination. Rather some users have misused the platform to organize, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments," he said.

Buhari said that following the June ban, Twitter had reached out to the Nigerian government and that the groups were exploring ways to resolve the issue.

The government said it is engaging with Twitter on key issues including "national security and cohesion" and "dispute resolution." It wants Twitter to have local registration, a physical presence and representation in Nigeria, to pay taxes locally and to have more local content.

"Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements," Buhari said in his speech.

"As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria's sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety."

In April, Nigeria's information minister was not very happy about news that Twitter had chosen Ghana for its first African office and blamed the media for misrepresenting Nigeria.

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— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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