Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice has restrained the Federal Government of Nigeria from unlawfully sanctioning or harassing Nigerians who use Twitter until the suit filed by the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is determined.
The sub-regional court also ordered the government and its agents not intimidate, arrest or prosecute any Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations.
Its ruling yesterday in Abuja was at the instance of the suit filed against the government by SERAP and 176 other Nigerians.
After hearing arguments from the lawyer to SERAP, Femi Falana (SAN) and the counsel to the government, Maimuna Shiru, the court said having listened to the objection by Nigeria, it has this to say: “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.”
The plaintiff had argued 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.”