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Nigeria demands a local license from social media companies


ABUJA, June 9 (Reuters) – Social media firms wishing to operate in Nigeria must register and be licensed a local entity, the country’s information minister said on Wednesday, the government’s latest move since banning Twitter ( TWTR.N) last week.

“We insist that in order to operate in Nigeria you must first be a Nigerian company and be licensed by the Broadcasting Commission,” said Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information for social media companies.

The new regulations will contain conditions for continued operation, said Mohammed without going into detail. The move comes amid what critics say is a broader crackdown on freedom of expression in Africa’s most populous country, which has drawn comparisons to Nigeria’s decades of military rule in the 20th century.

Nigeria’s government said last week it shut down Twitter activities two days after the platform removed a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening to punish secessionists. In the meantime, Nigerian telecommunications companies have blocked access to Twitter.

Buhari is a former military ruler.

Mohammed did not provide a deadline for registration and licensing, but said that some companies were notified without naming the companies concerned. He didn’t respond to calls and a message asking for details.

“Twitter has consistently made its platform available to those who threaten Nigeria’s corporate existence,” said Mohammed, naming a separatist leader and protesters against the brutality of the police.

The minister said Facebook (FB.O) and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp had not been banned but did not say whether they needed to register and obtain a license.

Reporting by Felix Onuah; Letter from Paul Carsten

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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