ECOWAS Court Restrains Nigerian Govt From Imposing Sanctions On Twitter, Others
The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has restrained the Federal Government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting, or prosecuting Twitter.
It also restricted the government from carrying out such actions against any other social media service provider, as well as media houses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit challenging the government’s suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
The court gave the restraining order after hearing arguments from parties in a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, represented the plaintiffs while a legal practitioner, Maimuna Shiru, represented the government.
According to the court, interference with Twitter is a violation of human rights and the Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order.
It stressed the need to hear the matter as soon as possible and adjourned until July 6, 2021, for the hearing of the substantive suit.
In the suit, the applicants argued that the suspension of Twitter by the government and criminalisation of Nigerians and others using the social media platform has escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of citizens and others to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.
This followed the suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government after the social media giant deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Thereafter, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered television and radio stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.
The plaintiffs, in the suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and subjecting anyone, including media houses and broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria to harassment, intimidation, arrest, and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.