Social media network, Twitter, is reported to have suspended and later released the accounts of many Nigerian influencers for allegedly supporting a campaign for the release of Venezuelan Diplomat, Alex Saab in a manner that goes against its policies.
The suspension of these accounts come after an investigation was launched into claims that some 1,500 persons were being paid to promote the #FreeAlexSaab hashtag on the platform.
Some of influencers who were affected by Twitter’s action are Lamar, Tife, Adonai, Four-eyed Edo Boy, Danny Walter and Samuel Mbah.
They have been accused of pocketing about $2,000 each to sway public opinion and pressure Cape Verdean authorities against going ahead with the extradition of Mr. Saab to the United States.
BuzzFeed News and the African Research Lab (DigiAfricaLab), were the organizations leading the investigation into these claims.
The #FreeAlexSaab hashtag frequently trended on Twitter late last year as well as early 2021. Accoridng to some news reports notably one by the Financial Times, more than half a million twitter posts on the matter were seen, with many emmanating from Nigeria.
The accounts that were suspended were however, been restored. It is unclear if the development was due to an appeal or after Twitter’s own probe.
Alex Saab’s arrest
Last year, Cape Verdean authorities arrested the Venezuelan on the request of the US government.
The US says the Alex Saab, as a result of his close association with the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela got major contracts saw him shortchange the state.
It says that the businessman has pocketed over a US$100 millions from money laundering, and fraudulent actions.
The controversial issue has been a major subject for news discussions in Africa and South America with online and offline campaigns especially by pro-Saab groups.
Despite a ruling by the ECOWAS that Mr. Saab be released and a sum of $200,000 paid him as compensation, the island country is yet to comply as its Supreme Court issued a contrary ruling a day after that.
Lawyer for the Colombian national at the ECOWAS court, Femi Falana fears that Cape Verde’s position on the matter will have far-reaching consequences for the conduct of global diplomacy.