Comedian Benjamin Bello has been banned from broadcasting live on TikTok for a week, after a viewer mistook his character President Obonjo for a real African warlord and reported him to the platform.
Bello has been performing in clubs, at festivals and online as President Obonjo for over a decade. The character is the self-appointed leader of Lafta Republic and his comedy sets often see him contrasting what life in the UK is like compared to his own country.
Speaking to British Comedy Guide this morning, Bello explained: "At around 9.30pm last night I was broadcasting live to half a million followers, of which 1300 views was achieved, discussing the state of democracy around the world. I spoke to Americans, British and Africans in a lively debate. Someone responded with a written comment asking why an African warlord, a dictator, was allowed on TikTok... before I knew it the live Tik was banned.
"I appealed and they [TikTok] responded by saying it breached community standards. It begs the question, are African dictators not allowed on TikTok? We are witnessing censorship on one of the largest social media platforms. What happened to freedom of speech?"
He jokingly added: "I responded by recording a video to the Chinese leader, Head of TikTok, to intervene. In the meantime, TikTok is banned in my country until the ban is lifted."
The character can be found on TikTok at @presidentobonjo. His existing videos are still viewable, however the character won't be able to broadcast live again until 4th February.
Bello concludes: "It is ridiculous that someone mistook me for an African warlord and failed to see it is satire. I guess I am a virtual war criminal."