Sources indicate the Nigerian government shut off the country’s Internet and mobile communications networks in the capital of Abuja for 12 hours during May 29th’s presidential inauguration. OpenNet Initiative outlined the incident.
The election saw interim president Goodluck Jonathan elected for a full-term. Nigeria is not noteworthy for its repressive attitude to the Internet. In fact, Jonathan was the first presidential candidate anywhere to announce his candidacy on Facebook.
Update after the jump.
The Internet and mobile block were electronic expressions of a more traditional military action. In Abuja, government forces were out in force, blocking roads and isolating the city, hoping to dissuade, ready to quell, violence.
Around 30 world leaders arrived for the inauguration.
As one Twitter user, @biodunolusesi, commented: “Abuja’s just out of over 12 hrs of telecom/data lockdown! No phone, no Internet for the entire democracy day. Hello!”
Nigeria has seen political violence, especially as it surrounds the issues of the country’s large oil deposits, environmental desolation around some of the drilling grounds and accused profiteering by the companies exploiting the resource and the government officials managing it.
Still, shutting down the Internet and mobile networks? It’s a bad precedent.
Update: Doug Madory, an analyst at Renesys responded to our question:
“We did not observe the withdrawal of Nigerian networks from the global routing table. They may still have blocked access through other means, but we have no data to support or refute that.”
So, unlike Egypt, Libya and Syria, Nigeria did not technically shut their Internet down in a global context. Effectively, though, it seems they did just that.