Twitter ban: SERAP, 176 concerned Nigerians, drag Buhari to court

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), alongside 176 concerned Nigerians have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to the ECOWAS court over the ban on Twitter in Nigeria and for criminalising Nigerians still using the social media platform.
The suit was filed by counsel to the plaintiffs and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday at the ECOWAS community court in Abuja.
In the suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, the plaintiffs said the suspension of Twitter has seriously undermined the ability of Nigerians and other people in the country to freely express themselves in a democracy as well as undermined the ability of journalists, media houses and broadcast stations to freely carry out their professional duties.
The plaintiffs are seeking an order of interim injunction, restraining the federal government from implementing the 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.
They specifically prayed the 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 micro blogging 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 micro blogging 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.”
The federal government had on June 4, imposed a ban on Twitter after the social media platform deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, threatening that agitators in the south east would be treated in the “language that they understand”.
The government also threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had directed all broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter.

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