Nigeria’s suspension of Twitter operation “unlawful” – says ECOWAS Court

President Buhari, right, with Nigeria's Digital Economy Minister Pantami

Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.

The Economic Community of West African States’ Court has ruled as “unlawful” the earlier suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government.

“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 a fair hearing,” the court stated. SERAP    stands for Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project

The ECOWAS court also warned the Nigerian government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, “never to repeat it again”.

Buhari’s Twitter account was deleted because he did not follow the rules, standards and regulations of Twitter against hate comments when he made threatening comments against mainly the south east Igbo people in Nigeria.

The ECOWAS Court noted that Nigeria’s suspending the operation of Twitter is inconsistent with the provisions of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’  Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — of which Nigeria is a State party.

SERAP’s lawyer in the suit, Femi Falana, SAN, underlined his point that “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.” He added that “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.“

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