ECOWAS court stops FG from arresting, prosecuter Twitter users

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja has restrained the Federal Government from imposing sanctions on citizens who violate the ban on Twitter.

Recall that the Federal Government had suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, while the Attorney-General of the Federation, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami ordered the immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria

However, the ECOWAS Court restrained the Federal Government from imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to “arrest or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the Plaintiffs and other Nigerians who are Twitter users.

The ruling was on an interlocutory application filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.

They argued before the court that “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalisation 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.”

The court gave the order after hearing arguments from Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, and lawyer to the government Maimuna Shiru.

The court said: “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.”

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