SERAP, Falana Drag Buhari Govt To ECOWAS Court Over Twitter Ban

June 8, 2021
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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians have sued the Buhari administration for “the unconstitutional suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.”

The applicants are protesting the criminality of Nigerians who use Twitter, as well as the growing suppression of human rights, freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in Nigeria.

Following the removal of Buhari’s post, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said last week that Twitter operations will be suspended.

The government has threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone who uses Twitter, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has ordered all broadcast stations to stop using it.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja received the suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 today.

SERAP and concerned Nigerians are looking for the following: “An order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and subjecting anyone including media houses, broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria, to harassing, intimidating, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

The plaintiffs claimed in the complaint filed by SERAP’s Solicitor, Femi Falana (SAN), that if the application is not granted quickly, federal authorities will continue to suspend Twitter arbitrarily.

They said that the Buhari administration was about to hit telecommunication corporations, media firms, broadcast stations, and others with criminal charges and fines.

The complaint stated, in part:

“The suspension of Twitter is aimed at stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity.

“The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential.

“This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints, and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy, but indispensable to a thriving civil society.”

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