Lai Mohammed asks Google to shut down all the Ipob YouTube channels on its platform

NIGERIA'S federal government has written to Internet company Google asking it to shut down all the YouTube channels on its platform belonging to the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) because it is an illegal organisation.


In June last year, the Nigerian government banned the use of Twitter across the country after the platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari. This ban attracted widespread condemnation and in response, the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project and 176 concerned Nigerians took the government to the Ecowas court.


Nigerian civil society groups condemned the ban, saying it is a breach of free speech, while the country's entertainment industry has said it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs. Globally too, international pressure mounted on Nigeria to lift the ban with Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, saying restricting the use of social media has no place in a democratic government.


In January this, the Nigerian government finally relented and rescinded the ban but there are now signs it may be in for another showdown with a social media platform. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's information minister, met with a team of Google officials on in Abuja today and asked them to ban these channels which include Biafra Digest TV, Umu Biafra TV, Biafra Digest, and Asa Biafra TV.


He said: “Your platform is a platform of choice for Ipob, a proscribed terrorist group. We implore you not to make your platform available to them for their acts of violence and destabilisation. We hope you will cooperate with us as well as our security agencies in this direction.”


According to Alhaji Mohammed, some of these channels use local languages and dialects during their broadcast to evade being censored. There are no indications so far that the government plans to ban Google too, however.