Nigeria has blocked Twitter on its mobile networks after the social media company deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari threatening a violent crackdown on unrest in the southeast.
The vast majority of internet users in Africa’s most populous country use mobile data to access the internet.
Information Minister Lai Muhammad said on Friday afternoon that the administration had suspended Twitter due to the “continuous use of the platform for activities that could undermine the presence of businesses in Nigeria.”
Access to the site continued throughout the evening, but by Saturday morning it was only available via fixed-line broadband.
Nearly 68 million Nigerians subscribe to mobile data plans, which are often shared among multiple users, a number that dwarfs the number using fixed broadband, according to December. a study By the World Bank and GSMA, the commercial group of mobile operators.
Twitter said it was investigating the “extremely concerning” comment, and would provide updates.
The comment comes months after Twitter chose neighboring Ghana for its first office in Africa, overtaking the continent’s largest market, Nigeria, in what is seen as a sign of Ghana’s more favorable business environment and Nigeria’s more mercurial system.
The Nigerian government has floated the idea of regulating social media, particularly since large-scale protests against police brutality last year.
The latest move came after Twitter on Wednesday Tweet Bukhari that threatened perpetrators of violence in the restive southeast of the country in reference to the brutal civil war of the late 1960s in Nigeria.
The government has blamed the upsurge in violence in the region, which has included tragic prison breaks, burning election offices and killings of police officers, on the outlawed Indigenous separatist group in Biafra.
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to realize the devastation and loss of life that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War,” Buhari wrote on Tuesday in the now-removed post.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who have been through war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Twitter said the statement violated its Arbitrary Conduct Policy, which prohibits “content that desires, hopes, promotes, incites or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm, or serious illness against an individual or group of people.”
Buhari, who ruled as a military dictator in the early 1980s, served in the 1967-1970 civil war, also known as the Biafran War, in which it is estimated that one million Biafrans died of starvation.