The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has barred the federal government from prosecuting Twitter users.
Remember that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, threatened to prosecute those who violated the FG’s ban on Twitter’s operation in Nigeria by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also directed that all radio and television stations deactivate their Twitter accounts.
Following the ban and threat of prosecution, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians petitioned the ECOWAS Court.
After hearing arguments from SERAP’s Solicitor, Femi Falana SAN, and the government’s lawyer, Maimuna Shiru, the court restrained the Federal government from imposing sanctions unlawfully or harassing, intimidating, arresting, or prosecuting Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the Plaintiffs, and other Nigerians.
The court stated that the “unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country,” and that it has “listened very well to Nigeria’s objection.”
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The court, on the other hand, stated that “any interference with Twitter is viewed as an inference with human rights, and this will violate human rights.” As a result, the case is heard by this court. In addition, the court directs that the application be heard as soon as possible. The Nigerian government must take immediate action to put the order into effect.”