Twitter ban: FG, Lai Mohammed sue over broadcasters directive.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit in Abuja, asking the Federal High Court to “stop the Federal Government and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Muhammed, from using their patently unlawful directive to all TV and radio stations not to use Twitter, and to delete their accounts, as a pretext to harass, intimidate, suspend, or impose criminal punishment on them.”
This is in response to the National Broadcasting Commission’s instruction to TV and radio stations to “immediately terminate the patronage of Twitter” after the social media behemoth was banned in the country for deleting trolls. removing tweets by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). SERAP is seeking “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Muhammed and any other persons from censoring, regulating, licensing, and controlling the social media operations and contents by broadcast stations, and activities of social media service providers in Nigeria” in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/496/2021, which was filed last Friday.
SERAP is also seeking “an order setting aside the instruction by NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed directing broadcast stations to stop utilizing Twitter, as it is illegal, unlawful, contradictory, and incompatible with the Nigerian Cooperatives Act.” The 1999 Constitution [as modified], as well as the country’s duties under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” According to SERAP, “the government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Muhammed have consistently made policies and given directives to crack down on media freedom, and the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information, as well as to impose crippling fines and other sanctions on broadcast stations with no legal basis whatsoever.”
According to the organization, “the court has an essential role to play in the protection and preservation of the rule of law to ensure that persons and institutions are protected.” These institutions work under the parameters of constitutional and statutory constraints.” SERAP also claims that “where agencies of government are allowed to operate at large and at their whims and caprices in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result will be anarchy, licentiousness, authoritarianism, and brigandage, leading to the loss of the much cherished and constitutionally guaranteed freedom and liberty.” The organization stated, “By using the National Broadcasting Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to prevent broadcast stations from using Twitter without recourse to the courts, the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed have violated the right to access to justice and fair hearing guaranteed under sections 6 & [b] and 36 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, and articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human Rights.”
The suit, filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi, and Opeyemi Owolabi, stated in part, “The instruction by the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed to broadcasters to deactivate their Twitter accounts is unlawful, since it amounts to extortion.” a grave violation of the principle of legality, the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media independence, and incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations.” “SERAP and concerned Nigerians have the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, subject only to reasonable restrictions.” SERAP and concerned Nigerians commonly rely on the Twitter handles of various broadcast stations as sources of information for our actions throughout the country to promote openness and accountability.” “Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. on Civil and Political Rights, which put legal obligations on President Buhari’s administration to guarantee that Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom are respected, promoted, protected, fulfilled, and not unjustly restricted.” NBC, Mr. Lai Muhammed, and anyone else from filtering, regulating, licensing, and controlling . Brodcast stations’ social media operations and materials, as well as the actions of social media service providers in Nigeria.”
“An injunction setting aside the direction by NBC and Mr. Lai Muhammed directing broadcast stations to stop utilizing Twitter, as it is unconstitutional,” SERAP said in the lawsuit. Twitter is unconstitutional, unlawful, incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s commitments under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” According to SERAP, “President Buhari’s government, the National Broadcasting Commission, and Mr Lai Muhammed have.” Without any legal foundation, the government has continuously created policies and issued instructions to curtail media freedom and Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information, as well as to levy heavy fines and other sanctions on broadcast stations.” “The court has a vital role to play in the maintenance and preservation of the rule of law to ensure that persons and institutions function within the established range of constitutional and legislative limitations,” according to the organization. SERAP also claims that “where government agencies are allowed to operate at large and according to their whims and caprices in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result is that the end result is
!ATTENTION !ATTENTION !ATTENTION
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Anarchy, licentiousness, authoritarianism, and brigandage would result, leading to the loss of the much-cherished and constitutionally protected freedom and liberty.”