The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja on Tuesday delivered a landmark ruling as justices restrained President Muhammadu Buhari administration and its agents from arresting or prosecuting Nigerians using Twitter.
The court also protected social media service providers, radio and television broadcast stations and others from prosecution pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
They said the directive “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 heard 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 an interference with human rights and that will violate human rights.
“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.”
Falana, in his reaction, hailed the intervention of the ECOWAS Court.
The legal luminary described it as a timely relief for millions of Nigerians using Twitter and under the threat of prosecution under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition.
“It is extremely embarrassing that the Federal Government could threaten to jail Nigerians for sedition, which was annulled by the Court of Appeal in 1983, in the case of Arthur Nwankwo vs The State”, he said.
The substantive suit has been adjourned to 6th July 2021 for hearing.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians had challenged “the unlawful suspension of Twitter”.