ECOWAS Court stops Nigerian govt from sanctioning, prosecuting Twitter users
In a landmark ruling today, the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja “restrained the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and its agents from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest, or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the Plaintiffs, and other Nigerians who are Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of this suit.”
The ruling came after the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, the criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression.”
After hearing arguments from SERAP’s Solicitor, Femi Falana, and the government’s lawyer, Maimuna Shiru, the court issued the order.
“The court has given careful consideration to Nigeria’s objection,” the court stated. This is what the court has to say about it. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as a violation of human rights, and it will be prosecuted. As a result, this court has the authority to hear the case. The court also orders that the application be heard as soon as possible. The Nigerian government must act quickly to carry out the order.”
SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare made the announcement today.
“The intervention of the ECOWAS Court is a timely relief for millions of Nigerians using Twitter who have been threatened with prosecution under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition,” Femi Falana said in response to the ruling.
“Contrary to the assurance given by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, that Twitter violators would not be prosecuted, the Federal Government has filed processes in the ECOWAS Court threatening to prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter for violating the suspension under the Penal Code’s sedition provisions.”
“It is extremely humiliating that the Federal Government could threaten to imprison Nigerians for sedition, which the Court of Appeal overturned in Arthur Nwankwo vs The State in 1983.”
The suit and ruling came after the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, suspended Twitter after the social media giant was banned in Nigeria for deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also told TV and radio stations to “immediately suspend their patronage of Twitter” and to delete “unpatriotic” Twitter accounts.
# Twitter Ban Nigeria #
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