Social media giant, Twitter is said to have suspended accounts belonging to some Nigerian social media influencers for allegedly showing support to Alex Saab.
According to reports, the suspension of these accounts followed allegations that the suspended accounts might have tweeted in support of Alex Saab, a man wanted in the United States for money laundering.
According to an intelligence analysis report published by Financial Times, the Venezuelan government is using fake 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.
The report analysed more than half a million Twitter posts related to Alex Saab, a Colombian citizen accused by the US of running illicit fuel and gold trading schemes to help Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro evade sanctions.
The intelligence report examined 547,000 tweets related to Saab’s case published in Africa and South America from October 2020 to February 2021.
Pro-Saab Twitter traffic had increased since the new year and “the primer driver of that increase appears to be the deployment of Nigeria-based social media influencers”, the analysis said.
“The campaign was for about a month and plenty influencers were on it,” an influencer, who wants to be anonymous, told The Guardian on Tuesday. His Twitter account was also suspended on Monday night.
Alex Saab was indicted last July of bribing Venezuelan officials and funnelling more than $350 million to overseas accounts as part of a food programme intended to serve those going hungry in Venezuela.
He is also suspected of helping Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to orchestrate a swap with Iran as part of a plan that has brought oil, workers, and supplies to Venezuela in exchange for about 9 tons of gold worth $500 million.
Saab was arrested in Cape Verde on June 12 when the private jet he was travelling on stopped during what Venezuela has described as a humanitarian mission.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Saab was in Cape Verde on a layover as part of a mission to acquire food for the government’s subsidy program as well as medicine for the coronavirus pandemic and his arrest is part of the U.S. “hounding and aggression against the Venezuelan people.”
Saab’s lawyers claimed that he cannot be charged in the United States because he has diplomatic immunity and that he was on a Venezuelan mission to Iran related to a COVID-19 relief effort when he was arrested on an Interpol “red notice” issued by U.S. authorities.
The total number of social media accounts suspended by Twitter are said to be over fifteen, and this happened on Monday.
A Twitter user, @OdogwuAnicah said: “Danny walter, Tife, Volqx, Lamar, Uncle Mohamz, Pamilerin, Valhalla, Four eyed Edo Boy all got suspended.
“Mbah and Bisi got suspended too. Including @JustKelechi @Yucee_ @Divineze @ogaKnowledge, @AimThaMachine_, @UgwunnaEjikem @FestusGreen, @CO_Chiamaka @Anambra_girl,” he added.
In 2019, Twitter also suspended accounts of some social media influencers ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Badmus Hakeem (Tweets @Bhadoosky), Jokunle (@Jokunle), Ani Nomso (@ani_nomso), Shawnife (@Shawnife_), Official Bmax (@OfficialBmax), Uche Kush (@UcheKush_), Lazy Writa (@LazyWrita), Rouvafe (@Rouvafe), Abdulaxis (@iam_abdulaxis), Switchme, Enekem Greg (@EnekemGreg) were suspended