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The ECOWAS court has barred the Federal Government of Nigeria from prosecuting Nigerians who use Twitter.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has barred the Federal Government and its agents from arresting or prosecuting Nigerians who use the social media network Twitter, which Nigeria suspended two weeks ago. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation, had vowed to arrest and punish Nigerians who were utilizing a Virtual Private Network to circumvent Twitter's shutdown.


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However, the Civil Society Organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, and 176 concerned Nigerians filed a complaint with the ECOWAS court, claiming that the illegal suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, as well as the criminalization of Nigerians and other Twitter users, had occurred. increased persecution of human rights and unlawfully curtailed Nigerians' and other people's rights in the country to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom In a statement, SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare said that in a landmark ruling on Tuesday, the ECOWAS court barred the regime of President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and its agents from “unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest, or prosecute Twitter or any other social media service provider, media houses, radio, television



determination in this case.” The court issued the ruling after hearing arguments from SERAP's Solicitor, Femi Falana (SAN), and the government's counsel, Maimuna Shiru. The ECOWAS court went on to say, "The court has listened very carefully to Nigeria's argument." This is what the court has to say. Any interference with Twitter is considered as an interference with human rights, which is a violation of human rights. As a result, this court has the jurisdiction to hear the case. In addition, the court mandates that the application be heard as soon as possible. The Nigerian government must take swift action to put the order into effect.” In response to the verdict, Falana stated that the intervention of the ECOWAS Court is a timely relief for millions of Nigerians who use Twitter and have been threatened with punishment under a clause of the Penal Code dealing to sedition.



According to the senior advocate, contrary to a later assurance attributed to Malami that violators of the Twitter suspension would not be prosecuted, the Federal Government filed processes in the ECOWAS Court threatening to prosecute Nigerians using Twitter for violating the suspension under the Penal Code's sedition provisions.

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“It is exceedingly shameful that the Federal Government may threaten to imprison Nigerians for sedition, which was overturned by the Court of Appeal in the case of Arthur Nwankwo versus The State in 1983,” Falana stated. The main suit has been postponed until July 6, 2021 for hearing.

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