For Immediate Release
The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ruled that the indefinite suspension of access to Twitter in Nigeria by the Federal Government in June 2021 was unlawful and violated the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Court ordered the Government to guarantee that it would not repeat the unlawful ban on Twitter.
The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (formerly known as Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism) and other plaintiffs argued that the Twitter ban was a violation of human rights and an explicit constraint on the freedom of expression as against chapter 4, section 39 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
In its judgment delivered on July 14, 2022, in four consolidated suits filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), other non-governmental organisations, journalists and some Nigerian citizens challenging the Government’s June 4 2021 decision to suspend access to Twitter in Nigeria, the Court ordered the Government of Nigeria to take necessary steps to align its policies and other measures to give effect to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the ACHPR and the ICCPR.
The court ruled that suspending Twitter operations is unlawful and violated Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Nigeria is a signatory.
The Court’s orders were contained in its judgment in four consolidated suits filed by MRA, other non-governmental organisations, journalists and some Nigerian citizens challenging the Government’s June 2021 decision to suspend access to Twitter in Nigeria for the ease of adjudication.
CJID calls on the government to resist every intent to constrain the freedom of expression by issuing rigid regulations and unlawfully imposing sanctions.
The four suits that were consolidated are:
· Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21 filed by Mrs Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga on behalf of Media Rights Agenda and four other non-governmental organisations, namely: Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (formerly Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism), the International Press Centre (IPC), and Tap Initiative for Citizens Development (TICD) as well as four journalists, Mr David Hundeyin, Mr Samuel Ogundipe, Ms Blessing Oladunjoye, and Mr Nwakamri Zakari Apollo;
· Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, filed by Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on behalf of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a Lagos-based NGO, and 176 Nigerians;
· Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/26/21. Filed by Mr Patrick Elohor, President of the NGO, One Love Foundation; and
· Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/24/21, filed by Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, a Lagos-based human rights lawyer.