As if the unconstitutional absurdity by the Nigerian Government to ban microblogging site, Twitter was not enough embarrassment, the ECOWAS Court in Abuja has ruled against the prosecution of Nigerians who refuse to adhere by the illegal ban in a fresh win for Nigerians.
Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed had announced on 4 June 2021 that Twitter’s operation in the country is indefinitely suspended for what he described as “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” An announcement that was widely mocked by Nigerians who quickly adapted to the new bizarre reality that is both unconstitutional and brazing by downloading VPNs and browsers with built-in features that obscure their location.
Shortly after, the Attorney-General of the Federation, in a display of lawlessness that should taint his credentials forever as a legal practitioner, sought to enforce the fiat decision by threatening to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who still use the app despite the ban.
The ruling by the ECOWAS Court comes in response to a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians against the ban and criminalisation of Nigerians who refuse to adhere to it; all of which they argued to be an escalation of human rights repression in the country.
The Nigeria Lawyer quoted the court ruling thus, “The court has listened very well to the objection of by Nigeria. The court has this to say. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as interference with human rights, and that will violate human rights.”
“Therefore this court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also hereby orders the application be heard expeditiously. The Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order.”
The case has been adjourned to 6 July 2021. In the meantime, the Nigerian government is forced to succumb to the power of the intervention and Nigerians are rightly hailing it.
It remains to be seen if Internet Service Providers in the country will respond to the ruling, in the interim, by restoring Twitter access to users.