22 June 2021By Victoria Abah
The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja in a landmark ruling, has restrained the Nigerian government from unlawfully imposing sanctions or whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Twitter and any other social media service providers, media houses, the Plaintiffs and other Nigerian Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
The ruling followed a suit filed against the government by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, and 176 others.
They argued that the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and criminalization of people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.
A three man panel presided over by the Vice President of the Ecowas Court, Justice Gberi‐be Ouattara gave the order after hearing arguments from the Counsel to SERAP, Chief Femi Falana and Counsel to the government, Mr. Maimuna Shiru.
Justice Quattara ordered the Nigerian government to implement the order immediately.
Reacting to the ruling, Chief Falana, said the intervention of the ECOWAS Court was a timely relief for millions of citizens using Twitter who have been threatened with prosecution by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition.
The matter has been adjourned until the 6th of next month for hearing of the substantive suit.