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General News of Wednesday, 9 June 2021


Twitter Ban: SERAP drags Buhari to court over unlawful suspension

President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged the court by SERAP President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged the court by SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Buhari government over “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.”

The suit also challenged  “the criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter, the escalating repression of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.”

In the suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 filed yesterday before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, SERAP and the concerned Nigerians sought 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 harassment, intimidation, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit, Sunnewsonline said.

In the suit filed by the solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana (SAN), the plaintiffs contended that if their application is not urgently granted, the Federal Government will continue to arbitrarily suspend Twitter and threaten to impose criminal and other sanctions on Nigerians, telecommunication companies, media houses, broadcast stations and other people using Twitter in Nigeria. 

Part of the suit read: “The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government.

“The arbitrary action by the Federal Government and its agents have negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter. The suspension has also impeded the freedom of expression of millions of Nigerians, who criticise and influence government policies through the microblogging App. The suspension of Twitter is arbitrary, and there is no law in Nigeria today permitting the prosecution of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights through Twitter and other social media platforms.”

Falana said the suspension and threat of prosecution by the Federal Government constitute a fundamental breach of the country’s international human rights obligations including under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

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