The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has scheduled June 22 for the commencement of the suit against the Federal Government over the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria.
The lawsuit challenging the Federal government’s Twitter’s suspension was filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians, seeking the reversal of the indefinite suspension of the microblogging site in Nigeria.
Recall that the Federal Government had indefinitely suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria following the deletion of a tweet made by President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly breaking its rules.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Mohammed, who made the announcement had accused Twitter of double standard, saying that the microblogging and social networking service has been used to persistently undermine Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Court is now set to begin hearing on the suit filed by SERAP.
The court, in a notice to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and respondent’s counsel, Mrs Maimuna Lami Shiru, stated that the hearing will be virtual and the court may not send another notice.
The Notice reads, “Notice is hereby given that this application has been fixed for hearing of the Application for Interim Measure on the 22nd day of June 2021 at 10 am in the forenoon and will be heard on that day if the business of the Court permits or otherwise on some adjourned day of which you may not receive further notice,” the court stated.
SERAP and 176 Concerned Nigerians are suing over “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalisation of Nigerians and other people using Twitter, and the escalating repression of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.”
The 176 Nigerians include the former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and the co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Aisha Yesufu among others.
The suit which is numbered ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, 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 from using Twitter in Nigeria to harassment, intimidation, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
According to the suit, “The suspension and threat of prosecution by the Federal Government constitute a fundamental breach of the country’s international human rights obligations including under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”