As there are no indications of a reversal on the ban on Twitter usage in Nigeria, Non-profit group Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Group (SERAP) has filed a suit at the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) court against the government of President Buhari over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalisation of Nigerians and other people using Twitter.
In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 filed yesterday before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, SERAP is 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 a solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana (SAN), the plaintiffs contend that “if this 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, the perpetual order sought in this suit might be rendered nugatory.”
According to them, 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.
He said: “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 of this right 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.”
Also, prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has admonished the Federal Government to stop the arrogance of power and “display of ideology of dictatorial might is right” and allow the millions of Nigerian users of the social media platform to continue to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression and association.Follow us on social media