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Nigerian Govt Lifts Twitter Ban After Conditions Met

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Seven months after Nigeria shut out more than 200 million people from the social networking site, Nigerians will have Twitter back.

The government announced the suspension of the social media platform in June 2021, after it deleted a controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari. The government also accused Twitter of working against Nigeria’s interests.

The government stipulated that five conditions were to be met before the suspension would be lifted. This included that Twitter pay attention to national security and cohesion, registration, physical presence, and representation in Nigeria, as well as dispute resolution, and local content”.

The government has said the conditions have been met.

“The immediate and remote cause of the suspension was the unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, among others,” he said.

He noted that digital platforms and their operators wield enormous influence over the fabric of society, social interaction and economic choices and could be used either as a tool or a weapon.

“Every nation is grappling with how to balance its usage efficiently. Without balancing, every citizen’s security, privacy, social well-being, and development are at stake,” he said.

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Mr Abdullahi added that the suspension of Twitter was a deliberate attempt to recalibrate Nigeria’s relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits, “without jeopardising the justified interests of the Company.”

“Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful,” he remarked.

He noted that Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians ranging from young innovators to public sector officials who find it helpful to engage their audience.

Read Mr Abdullahi’s full statement below.

FGN LIFTS SUSPENSION OF TWITTER OPERATIONS

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022. The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim. In the Memo, the Minister updates and requests the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.

2. You may recall that on 5th June 2021, the FGN suspended the operation of Twitter through an announcement made by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed. Thereafter, the President constituted a seven-man Presidential Committee to engage Twitter Inc. Subsequently, in its wisdom, the Presidential Committee set a 20-member Technical Committee comprising all relevant government agencies. The Technical Committee engaged and worked directly with the Twitter team.

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3. The immediate and remote cause of the suspension was the unceasing use of the platform by some unscrupulous elements for subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines, among others. These issues bordering on National Security, Cohesion and the effects of the abuse of the Twitter platform forced the FGN to suspend the operation of Twitter to address the direct and collateral issues around its operations in Nigeria.

4. The new global reality is that digital platforms and their operators wield enormous influence over the fabric of our society, social interaction and economic choices. These platforms can be used as either a tool or a weapon. Every nation is grappling with how to balance its usage efficiently. Without balancing, every citizen’s security, privacy, social well-being, and development are at stake. Therefore, our action is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for our nation without jeopardising the justified interests of the Company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful.

5. The process of resolving this impasse between the FGN and Twitter Inc. has helped lay a foundation for a mutually beneficial future with endless possibilities. Twitter is a platform of choice for many Nigerians ranging from young innovators to public sector officials who find it helpful to engage their audience. Therefore, our engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria. Furthermore, the FGN looks forward to providing a conducive environment for Twitter and other global tech companies to achieve their potential and be sustainably profitable in Nigeria.

6. While appreciating all Nigerians, especially the vibrant Nigerian youths who have borne with the long wait to resolve this impasse, the FGN is happy to say that the gains made from this shared national sacrifice are immeasurable. Some of the gains include:

a) Ongoing economic and training opportunities as the Company continues to consider expanding its presence in Nigeria;

b) Getting a better understanding of how to use the Twitter platform effectively to improve businesses;

c) Revenue generation from the operation of Twitter in Nigeria;

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d) Smooth and coordinated relationship between Nigerian Government and Twitter leading to mutual trust;

e) Reduction of cybercriminal activities such as terrorism, cyberstalking, hate speech, etc.; and

f) Working with Twitter and other global companies to build an acceptable code of conduct following the global best practice.

7. The FGN has asked Twitter to fulfil some conditions before restoring its services. These conditions addressed legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws. Twitter has agreed to meet all the conditions set by the FGN. Consequently, the FGN and Twitter have decided on an execution timeline, which has started this week. Our engagement with Twitter opens a new chapter in global digital diplomacy and sets a new operational template for Twitter to come back stronger for the benefit of Nigerians.

The following are the resolutions agreed with Twitter. Inc.:

i. Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.

ii. Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.

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iii. Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.

iv. Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules. At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws. Taken together, these represent a comprehensive compliance apparatus.

v. Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.

8. Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022. We encourage all users of the Twitter platform to maintain ethical behaviour and refrain from promoting divisive, dangerous, and distasteful information on the platform. As patriotic citizens, we need to be mindful that anything illegal offline is also illegal online and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction.

9. Considering Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the very fabric of our corporate existence as a Nation, our priority is to adapt, not ban, Twitter. The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do anything possible to help Nigerians align and navigate Twitter algorithmic design to realise its potentials while avoiding its perils.

10. In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee led by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed, for the supervisory role and guidance given to the Technical Committee during the engagement. Similarly, the Presidential Committee commends the Technical Committee for a professional, robust and productive engagement with Twitter Inc. It also appreciates Government Regulatory Agencies and Internet Service Providers who implemented the FGN’s directives during the suspension.

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE
Chairman Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement and
Director-General
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

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NEWS

The Pacific island of Tonga hit by Tsunami

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The Pacific island of Tonga hit by Tsunami© Provided by DW An undersea volcano off the coast of Tonga seen erupting in 2009The surge wave reached a height of 80 centimeters (31 inches), according to the New Zealand climate website Harukai Gulf Weather, citing sea level monitoring data. There is no information yet on property damage or casualties.

Images posted on social media from Tonga showed the tsunami breach the shoreline, and move into the town.

The US based Pacific tsunami warning center said tsunami waves measuring 2 feet in height were observed by sea-level gauges in the capital of the US territory of American Samoa, around 940 kilometers (580 miles) from Tonga.

Officials there initially issued a tsunami warning, and told residents to “immediately” evacuate to higher ground. The warning was cancelled shortly thereafter.

New Zealand, more than 2,000 kilometers away from the site of the eruption, has also issued a tsunami advisory.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said parts of the country could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.”

Undersea volcano erupts

The eruption Saturday was the latest in a series from the undersea Hunga Tonga, Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Saturday’s eruption is the second in only two days.

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A previous eruption on Friday sent plumes of ash and smoke into the air, with smoke clouds extending up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the atmosphere.

The volcano had showed some intermittent activity through December last year. On Friday, people were advised by officials to stay home and protect drinking water and resources.

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BUSINESS

Kenyans to start using Chinese-built expressway in March: official

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Kenyans will begin using the Chinese-built Nairobi expressway in March, three months earlier than anticipated, an official said on Friday.

Kenyans will begin using the Chinese-built Nairobi expressway in March, three months earlier than anticipated, an official said on Friday.

Kenyans to start using Chinese-built expressway in March: official© Provided by Xinhua EN

Kung’u Ndung’u, the director-general of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), said construction works on the road currently stand at 82 percent, bringing it closer to completion.

“Construction of the Nairobi Expressway continues to make good progress with its completion status standing at 82 percent. The project is on schedule for opening to the public by March,” said Ndung’u in a notice.

He observed that construction of the operation and monitoring center stands at 99.5 percent while 98.5 percent of elevated sections have been built.

Kenyans are eagerly awaiting the completion of the 27 km road that will cut travel time from the south to west of Nairobi to about 20 minutes from two hours currently during peak time.

Kenyans to start using Chinese-built expressway in March: official© Provided by Xinhua EN

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in December made an extensive inspection tour of the expressway which is financed and constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).

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Kenyatta hailed the expressway as a key infrastructure project, noting that the highway is bound to reduce the traffic gridlock that people have experienced and that has added to the cost of doing business in the country.

More than 4,000 Kenyan workers in various cadres have been employed by the project with tonnes of construction materials sourced locally, according to KeNHA.

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HEALTH

‘Trading is gambling, no doubt about it’ – Does cryptocurrency dealing fuel addiction?

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‘Trading is gambling, no doubt about it’ – Does cryptocurrency dealing fuel addiction? This is a question coming up and asked on therapy couches as a new trend is beginning to emerge.

Raised on the remote Shetland archipelago, he left school at 13 to become a trawlerman before moving into construction, eventually earning £85,000 a year digging tunnels for Crossrail.

Despite his self-made success, compulsive cryptocurrency trading, alcohol and drug use took over his life.

In the fog of multiple addictions, he lost the “addresses” of between five and 10 bitcoins, rendering his digital buried treasure – worth up to £300,000 today – impossible to retrieve.

Steven spotted the potential of bitcoin early and he had a talent for trading. But even if he had that money now, his addiction means it would soon be squandered.

“Trading is gambling, there’s no doubt about it,” he says.

“I studied and studied. I taught myself how to be a good trader and tried really hard to manage my accounts and stick to a set of rules.

“But my mind would twist and I’d go all in, like a poker player that thought he had the perfect hand. I was convinced I was going to be a bitcoin millionaire.”

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Now in recovery at the Castle Craig residential treatment clinic in Scotland, Steven fears that legions of young people are being lured into high-risk trading and potentially addiction, based on the same misguided quest for untold riches.

“A whole generation think that with a little mobile phone they can win, that they can … beat the market,” he says.

“It scares the bejesus out of me.”

‘Trading is gambling, no doubt about it’ – Does cryptocurrency dealing fuel addiction?© Provided by The Guardian Representation of cryptocurrency dogecoin. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

Steven’s fears are founded partly on crypto’s rapid emergence into the mainstream.

When he started investing in 2015, digital currencies meant nothing to most people.

Now, they are being touted as a more democratic alternative to a monopolistic and exploitative global financial system.

As the Guardian revealed on Friday today, crypto firms launched a record-breaking promotional push in London last year, targeting millions of commuters with 40,000 adverts on billboards, at tube stations, in carriages and across the side of double decker buses.

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Advertisers included relatively obscure names such as Hex, Kraken and Puglife about whom consumers know little, if anything.

Meanwhile, football clubs and players, not to mention globally recognised celebrities, tout crypto investments on a daily basis via social media.

This week, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr were named in a lawsuit alleging that they helped promote crypto firm EthereumMax, as it made “false and misleading” statements that left investors nursing heavy losses.

An Instagram post about EthereumMax, to Kardashian’s 250 million followers, may have been the most widely seen financial promotion of all time, according to the head of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Yet despite their ascendancy – and warnings that governments could suffer “limitless” losses – cryptoassets remain unregulated in the UK, pending a Treasury review.

That means that the FCA, the UK’s financial regulator, is all but powerless to influence how the industry behaves.

While some trading platforms that offer digital assets are regulated – because they also offer more traditional financial instruments – crypto coins and tokens are not.

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Cryptoasset executives do not have to prove that they are fit and proper people to take people’s money. The companies they run are not required to hold enough cash to repay investors if they go bust. Nor must they worry about the FCA’s stipulation that financial promotions, such as those splashed across public transport in London, are fair, clear and not misleading.

Amid the marketing blitz, the Advertising Standards Authority is the only watchdog that has bared its teeth. It is investigating one advert by the cryptocurrency Floki Inu and has already banned one for Luno Money.

‘Trading is gambling, no doubt about it’ – Does cryptocurrency dealing fuel addiction?© Provided by The Guardian A cryptocurrency poster advert at a London tube station. Photograph: Gavin Rodgers/Alamy

“If you’re seeing bitcoin on a bus, it’s time to buy,” the Luno advert insisted, contrary to prevailing investment wisdom.

Luno Money told the Guardian it would welcome an “effective regulatory framework”.

But in the ongoing vacuum of oversight, experts fear that cautionary tales of addiction, such as the one told by Steven, are being drowned out by powerful, overwhelmingly positive messages.

To monitor the type of messaging sent out by marketing teams, the Guardian created an experimental cryptocurrency portfolio – holding a mixture of bitcoin, ether and Shiba Inu.

As bitcoin slumped towards the end of 2021 and into 2022, having reached all-time highs just weeks earlier, the Twitter account of smartphone trading app eToro remained doggedly optimistic.

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“Is bitcoin on its way to a new high?,” it asked, as the slide began. “We’ve seen bitcoin rally before. But could this be the one to take it to the MOON?”

The answer, for the time being at least, was “No”. But holders of crypto portfolios were encouraged to stay positive.

“Your account gained 1.87% yesterday,” one app notification read, as the slump abated. “You had a good day. Share the news with everyone.”

No such invitation appeared on the far more frequent days when the value of the Guardian’s portfolio went down.

“It’s a very strategic marketing ploy,” says Dr Anna Lembke, one of the world’s foremost addiction experts, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and author of the book Dopamine Nation.

“They’re encouraging you to amplify the wins and ignore the losses, creating a false impression there are more wins.”

Asked about this, eToro says that it is “committed to helping retail investors engage with each other and foster an environment of learning and collaboration”, adding that its platform is not “gamified”.

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According to eToro’s UK managing director, Dan Moczulski, some users make their account public so that “all investments are visible to others, whether they are profitable or not”.

The company said it also provides educational tools, performs know-your-customer checks and encourages long-term, diversified investing.

But Dr Lembke is concerned by the potential for the social media element to fuel compulsive behaviour in crypto trading, an activity she says bears the hallmarks of addictive gambling products but without the acknowledged risk.

“When you mix social media with financial platforms, you make a new drug that’s even more potent,” she says.

Social media posts pushing crypto frequently refer to Fomo – the fear of missing out – fuelling an urge to participate.

“You get this herd mentality where people talk to each other about what the market is doing, they have wins together, losses together, … an intense shared emotional experience.”

“We get a little spike in dopamine, followed by a little deficit that has us looking to recreate that state.”

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This, she says, echoes characteristics of gambling but with a crucial difference.

“It’s less stigmatised,” she says. “It has this socially sanctioned status as something that maverick smart people do.”

Parallels with gambling are becoming harder to ignore.

GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline, said it fields about 20 calls a week related to crypto. Callers reported trading for 16 hours a day, making huge losses and struggling to cope with the guilt.

As with gambling, where every one addict is estimated to harm seven other people, many were suffering at the hands of someone else’s habit.

One recounted how her partner’s trading obsession was leading them to spend time away from the family. Another said their partner had taken to trading while in recovery from alcoholism, spending every waking hour making trades.

GamCare has even dealt with young patients who bought digital coins in a desperate attempt to make enough money to get on to the property ladder, only to lose life-changing sums.

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At Castle Craig, where Steven is receiving treatment, the first crypto addict arrived at the clinic in 2016, followed by more than 100 since then.

“More and more people are isolated and are doing this [trading], especially since Covid,” says Tony Marini, the senior specialist therapist at the clinic and a recovering gambling addict himself.

“It’s tenfold already since 2016, so what’s it going to be like in the next five years?”

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UNREST

Mali Junta Slams French ‘Breach’ of Airspace As Paris Urges EU Sanctions

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The Mali military junta has condemned what it calls a “clear breach” of its airspace by a French military aircraft during the week, warning of potential consequences should it happen again. This comes as France has urged the European Union to impose sanctions on the military régime in Bamako, that has failed to honor a timeline for a return to democracy.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Malian government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga stated that a complaint had been issued to France after one of its military planes travelled between Coted’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan and the northern Malian city of Gao on Tuesday.

According to the military government, the flight was a “clear breach” of Malian airspace given the closure of most of the country’s land and air borders due to regional sanctions recently imposed on the country.

The junta claims the French military plane had switched off its transponder, preventing it from communicating with Malian aviation authorities.

In the wake of the incident, the Bamako government says it will “refuse all responsibility for the risks to which the perpetrators of these practices may be exposed in the event of a further violation of our airspace”.

🔴#Mali: un aéronef de Type A400 immatriculé FNBAN de l’Armée a “survolé l’espace aérien malien sans autorisation, le 11 janvier 2022”, selon un communiqué du Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, ministre de l’Intérieur. Le gouvernement malien dénonce “la violation de son espace aérien”. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/qiBIJiZSqo

Ecowas shutters land, air borders

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The French military have denied the Malian government’s claims, saying that the plane’s transponder had been switched to “military mode”, adding that “all procedures were respected” and the aircraft’s flight plan had been approved.

On Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States agreed to close all land and air borders with Mali and impose a trade embargo over delayed elections.

The sanctions – backed by France – came after Mali’s military government proposal in December that it would hold onto power for up to five years before restoring democracy.

Mali’s junta, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, took power in August 2020, promising to hold elections on 27 February.

Military junta “trying to fool” traditional allies

Meanwhile France has sad it will urge the European Union to impose further sanctions against Mali.

Speaking on Wednesday, French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Mali risked being “suffocated” unless the military junta lived up to its responsibilities and stopped seeking to “fool” the country’s traditional partners.

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With France holding the rotating EU presidency, Le Drian said that the EU measures would be in line with the unprecedented sanctions recently agreed with Ecowas.

The issue is due to be discussed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in the French city of Brest this Thursday, as France maintains that Mali is now a “European issue”.

“The junta is trying to fool all of its partners,” said Le Drian, noting how Bamako had called for help from Russian Wagner mercenaries as well as the “unacceptable” slipping of the election schedule.

With France already seeking to tighten the vice on the military rulers in Bamako, national carrier Air France said Wednesday that in line with official decisions it was suspending flights to and from Mali until further notice.

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