The appeal of the federal government of Nigeria to Sanction Twitter Users has been rejected by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja today.
The court in its ruling has restrained the Nigerian Government from the unlawful imposition of sanctions or taking actions to harass, arrest intimidate or prosecute twitter and any other social media service providers, media houses, radio, and television broadcast stations. Also included are the plaintiffs and other Nigerians who are Twitter users; pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
This hearing followed a suit that was filed by the Socio-Economic Rights And accountability Projects (SERAP) and 176 Nigerians against the Nigerian government over the unlawful suspension of the social media platform – Twitter.
They made a claim that the unlawful suspension of twitter in the country and the criminalization of Nigerians and other Twitter users, has hampered the rights of Nigerians. This action has also prevented the Nigerians and other people from having access to information and media freedom in the country.
Femi Falani, who is a Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria represented the plaintiffs, and Maimuna Shiru, a legal practitioner represented the government.
The court stated;
“The court has listened very well to the objection by Nigeria. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as inference with human rights, and that will violate human rights. Therefore, this court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also hereby orders that the application be heard expeditiously. The Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order.”
Femi Falana reacted by commending the court, as the court intervention is a burden lifted for many Nigerians using Twitter. Who the government has threatened with prosecution under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition.
“Contrary to the assurance credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN that violators of the Twitter would not be prosecuted, the Federal Government filed processes in the ECOWAS Court threatening to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter for violating the suspension under the provisions of the Penal Code relating to sedition.”
He continued by stating that “It is extremely embarrassing that the Federal Government could threaten to jail Nigerians for sedition, which was annulled by the Court of Appeal in 1983, in the case of Arthur Nwankwo vs The State.”
The hearing of the suit was adjourned until July 6, 2021, as the court stressed the need to hear the matter as soon as possible.