Twitter suspends Nigerian influencers’ accounts over #FreeAlexSaab
NEWSMAN – Social platform, Twitter, has suspended the accounts of some Nigerian social media influencers for their alleged involvement in a paid campaign for the release of Columbian businessman, Alex Saab.
The influencers, according to their Twitter monikers, include Pamilerin, Samuel Mbah, Danny Walter, Tife, Valhalla, Mr Ahmed, Adonai, Volqx, Lamar, Four-eyed Edo Boy, and Biisi.
Saab was arrested in Cape Verde last year when the private jet he was traveling on stopped during what Venezuela has described as a humanitarian mission.
According to Associated Press, United States officials believe Saab, an associate of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, holds numerous secrets about how Maduro, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation. At the time of his arrest, he was allegedly traveling to Tehran to negotiate deals to exchange Venezuelan gold for Iranian gasoline.
Subsequently, the Venezuelan government allegedly used paid Twitter accounts to sway public opinion and stop authorities in the West African islands of Cape Verde from extraditing its chief dealmaker to the US for onward prosecution for money laundering charges.
The #FreeAlexSaab hashtag trended online sometimes late last year and also in February 2021 with more than half a million Twitter posts, according to Financial Times analysis. Some Nigerian social media influencers were allegedly paid to trend the hashtag meant to obstruct justice, The Nation reported.
Twitter subsequently sanctioned the influencers and blocked their accounts.
A Nigerian Twitter user, @firstladyship, in reaction to the suspension of the influencers, wrote, “Jack suspended most of your favorite Nigerian influencers. It is not every job you must take, not every hashtag you must trend. Sometimes ask questions. A little research would save you from suspension”.
Another tweep, @lakul5887, wrote, “Some weeks ago, I saw some influencers trending #FreeAlexSaab. I decided to go through his profile and discovered man is a criminal. This our influencers! In fact, hunger is bad”.