The Nigerian government has directed all online broadcast service provider and all social media platforms which will include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, TikTok and others to obtain broadcast licences for their services.
Africa’s most populous country says social media platforms must obtain a licence as long as they operate within the Nigerian state, a controversial move many have condemned and described as regulation of social media and an attack on free speech.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) stated this in an advertorial that was signed by NBC’s director-general, Armstrong Idachaba on June 10.
The announcement comes just days after the Nigerian government banned Twitter’s operations in the country.
The government had also announced that social media platforms must be registered in the country.
Mr Idachaba said, “in line with the provision of the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11, Laws of the Federation 2004, section 2(1)(b)) which states that:
“The Commission shall have the responsibility of receiving, processing and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of Radio & Television Stations including cable television services, Direct Satellite Broadcast (DSB), and ANY medium of Broadcasting.
“The National Broadcasting Commission hereby directs every Online Broadcast Service provider and Social Media Platforms operating within the Nigerian State to apply and obtain broadcast Licence for their Service(s).”
Mr Idachaba noted that any online broadcast service provider that fails to obtain a licence will be considered an illegal entity.
Several efforts by lawmakers from the governing All Progressives Congress to pass a law to regulate social media was matched with massive opposition by Nigerians, resulting in the failure of the bill.