SERAP Drags Buhari To ECOWAS Court Over Twitter Ban
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and criminalisation of Nigerians still using Twitter.
Following the deletion of Buhari’s ‘civil war’ tweet by the micro blogging platform, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed last week announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. The government has also threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has asked all broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter.
In the suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 filed before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, SERAP and the concerned Nigerians are seeking 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.
In the suit filed by solicitor to SERAP, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the plaintiffs said that the suspension has seriously undermined the ability of Nigerians and other people in the country to freely express themselves in a democracy, and undermined the ability of journalists, media houses and broadcast stations to freely carry out their professional duties.
The plaintiffs are therefore asking the ECOWAS Court for the following reliefs, ‘’A declaration that the action of the Defendant and its agents in suspending the operation of Twitter or any other social media and microblogging application without an order of a competent court of jurisdiction is unlawful, inconsistent and incompatible with Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
‘’A declaration that the act of the Defendant in mandating its agent to commence and continue to regulate the social media in Nigeria amounts to restriction and censorship, thus violating Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A declaration that the act of the Defendant and its agents in suspending the operation of Twitter or any other social media and microblogging application in Nigeria without any offence known to law is incompatible with Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, and are therefore null and void to the extent of their inconsistency and incompatibility.’’