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Nigerian influencers suspended on Twitter over ‘coordinated online campaign to obstruct justice’

The accounts of some Nigerian influencers have been suspended by Twitter for breaking the platform’s rules.

WITHIN NIGERIA learnt that the accounts were suspended because of their tweets to free a Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab pictured above, who has been in detention in Cape Verde for months.

The suspended accounts include:  @Danny, @Tife, @Volqx, @Lamar, @Pamilerin, @Four eyed Edo Boy, @Biisi, @Mbah, @Alex_Houseof308, @Dasucre, @Mbahdeyforyou, @ogaKnowledge, @AimThaMachine_, @FestusGreen and @CO_Chiamaka.

“Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” the profile pages of the suspended accounts showed.

Many other accounts outside Nigeria were also suspended indefinitely for allegedly involving in a coordinated online campaign to obstruct justice.

During a fuel stop at Cape Verde, Saab was arrested while on his way from Iran to Venezuela on a business jet on June 12, 2020.

His arrest had to do with an Interpol red notice in relation to his indictment in the United States after he was accused of money laundering while on a humanitarian special mission to Iran.

Shortly after his detention, on June 14, Venezuelan foreign affairs minister tweeted in support of Saab, labelling his arrest as “arbitrary” and “illegal”.

On 30 November 2020, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice ordered Cape Verde to grant house arrest to Alex Saab.

Femi Falana, counsel to Mr Saab, had filed a suit at the ECOWAS court challenging the arbitrary arrest and detention of the Venezuelan diplomat.

He argued that as a diplomat, Mr Saab should have enjoyed diplomatic immunity and should not be subjected to imprisonment and legal proceedings by Cape Verde.

Mr Falana asked the ECOWAS court to order the release of the diplomat, allegedly detained based on a request by the United States Government.

On 15 December, the Cape Verde Court of Appeals ruled to refuse the decision, arguing that ECOWAS Court lacks the jurisdiction to force Cape Verde to take decisions.

On 29 December 2020, Nicolás Maduro appointed Saab as ambassador to the African Union, seeking to send him to Ethiopia and to prevent his extradition.

On 5 January 2021, the Cape Verde Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Saab’s extradition.

On 21 January, authorities of Cape Verde announced that his transfer to house arrest was approved.

In February 2021, the Venezuelan government organized a concert in support of Alex Saab, asking for his release. Two ruling party deputies visited Nigeria’s embassy in Venezuela, also asking for him to be freed.

On 22 February 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied a request to cancel Saab’s extradition to the United States.

An intelligence report that the Financial Times had access to analysed more than half a million Twitter posts related to Alex Saab and concluded that Nicolás Maduro’s administration “and/or its proxies (witting or unwitting) are involved in a co-ordinated campaign to influence both the government of Cabo Verde and its population to obstruct Saab’s extradition”.

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