SERAP, Falana seek restraining order against FG over twitter suspension

SERAP, Falana seek restraining order against FG over twitter suspension

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians have approached the ECOWAS court to obtain a restraining order against President Muhammadu Buhari government over “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria”.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Friday last week, announced the suspension of Twitter following the decision of the social media giant to delete a tweet by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.

In response to the action, the government has threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) asked all broadcast stations to suspend the use of the social media platform.

But the applicants suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 which was filed on Tuesday before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, is seeking: “An order of interim injunction over the government threat to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) asked all broadcast stations to suspend the use of the social media platform.

In the suit filed by Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana (SAN), asked the court to restrain the government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and subjecting anyone including media houses, broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria, to harassing, intimidating, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

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The government had threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) asked all broadcast stations to suspend the use of the social media platform, adding that if the application is not urgently granted, federal authorities will continue to arbitrarily suspend Twitter.

According to the plaintiff, the Buhari government was on the verge of slamming criminal charges and fines against telecommunication companies, media houses, broadcast stations and others.

Part of the suit reads: “The suspension of Twitter is aimed at stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity.

“The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential.

“This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints, and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment 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”.

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