Twitter Inc. has suspended the accounts of several influencers in Nigeria.
An unverified report has it that they were suspended because of their tweets to free a Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, who has been in detention in Cape Verde for many months.
Their social media profiles became inaccessible as some twitter users noticed the suspension late Monday.
Some of those suspended 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 these 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 12 June 2020.
He was arrested in accordance to an Interpol red notice in relation to his indictment in the United States, accused of money laundering.
Shortly after his detention, on 14 June, Venezuelan foreign affairs minister tweeted in support of Saab, labelling his arrest as “arbitrary” and “illegal”.
On 28 August 2020, Saab’s lawyers stated that he was on a mission to Iran as a special envoy of Maduro to negotiate fuel and humanitarian supplies at the time of his arrest.
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.
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, 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 Cabo Verde announced that his transfer to house arrest was approved.
In February 2021, the Venezuelan government organized a concert in support of Alex Saab and asking for his release. Two ruling party deputies visited Nigeria’s embassy in Venezuela, also asking for his liberation.
On 22 February 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied a request cancel Saab’s extradition request 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”.