A Court of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) has declared Nigeria’s Twitter ban by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari unlawful and ordered the administration never to repeat such.
This development was made today (Thursday), by the deputy director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) Kolawole Oluwadare.
Wakadaily gathered that Nigeria in July 2021 ordered the ban of Twitter after a tweet by Buhari was deleted, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. The government also threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country.
But the judgment delivered on Thursday, the ECOWAS court declared that it has the jurisdiction to hear the case and that the case was therefore admissible.
According to the Court, “The Buhari administration in suspending the operations of Twitter violates the rights of SERAP and 176 concerned Nigerians to the enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and the media, as well as the right to fair hearing.”
Reacting to the judgment, Femi Falana, SAN SERAP lawyer in the suit said, “We commend the ECOWAS Court for the landmark judgment in the case of SERAP v Federal Republic of Nigeria in which the Judges unanimously upheld the human rights of community citizens to freedom of expression, and access to information. Even though the Court had granted an interim order of injunction last year which restrained the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN from prosecuting Nigerians who defied the Twitter ban, SERAP deserves special commendation for pursuing the matter to a logical conclusion.”
“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.”