On Thursday, 14th July, 2022, the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, declared twitter ban as as unlawful.
In 2021, the suspension of the social media app by the federal government was uneventful and the Nigerian citizens didn’t like it.
ECOWAS has ordered the government to refrain from such unlawful bans in the future.
The court ruled that restricting the operations of Twitter is illegal and inconsistent with the provisions of 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 state party, according to a statement by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The ban happened after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Buhari.
The Nigerian government and officials of Twitter engage in a back to back conversation which led to the easing of the suspension in January this year, putting an end to the ban that lasted for about seven months.
While the conversation was going on, the Nigerian government was getting the heat from SERAP and some others in a legal battle at the ECOWAS Court.
SERAP and the others said in the law suit that the Twitter ban violated their right to freedom of expression and many other human rights.
The federal government, urged the court to dismiss the case, saying the regional court didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear it.
But in its judgement on Thursday, the ECOWAS Court, confirmed that it had jurisdiction to entertain the law suit.
“The Buhari administration in suspending the operations of Twitter violates the rights of SERAP and 176 concerned Nigerians to the enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and the media, as well as the right to fair hearing,” the court maintained.
Also, the court has ordered the Buhari administration to do the needful and align its policies to give effect to the rights and freedoms, and to guarantee that the unlawful ban on Twitter does not happen again.
The Court also ordered the Buhari government to foot the bills of the proceedings and asked the Deputy Chief Registrar to assess the costs accordingly.