Bashir Ahmad, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal New Media Assistant, and Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant for Media and Advertising, were caught using Twitter, despite the existing ban on the microblogging platform in Nigeria. .
The independent FIJ investigation revealed that Shehu liked a Defense News Nigeria tweet praising the Nigerian military’s prowess on September 5, exactly three months after the ban.
Similarly, Ahmad liked a tweet from Abiy Ahmed Ali, the Ethiopian president, on 9/11. Once again, on October 28, Ahmad liked a tweet from Haramain Sharifain, the official news outlet of the two great mosques in Saudi Arabia.
While these government officials may have appreciated the tweet outside of Nigeria, there is a strong indication that they did not intend to make their use of the microblogging platform public. Until Muhammadu Buhari’s government banned Twitter on June 5, Shehu and Ahmad were prolific users of the platform, feeding their large audience with updates on federal government activities and defending them from criticism.
Meanwhile, Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, was criticized Wednesday for resurfacing on Twitter despite the ban.
El-Rufai, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and ardent supporter of the Buhari government, said he could only use Twitter “for the time being” as he was out of the country.
Hadiza, el-Rufai’s wife, also tweeted Thursday for the first time since June 6, saying she missed Twitter.
The Nigerian government banned Twitter after the platform deleted tweets from the Nigerian president threatening the southeast of a possible repeat of the 1967 civil war over rebel attacks.
The Nigerian government said that while the cancellation of Buhari’s tweets impacted its decision, it was ultimately based on spreading fake news about the platform and a litany of other issues that threatened Nigeria’s corporate existence.