Nigerians launch legal action against the government’s Twitter ban | Media News

A lawsuit filed with the ECOWAS court in Abuja calls for an interim injunction preventing the government from enforcing the suspension.

Dozens of Nigerians and a local rights group have filed a lawsuit in a regional court seeking to raise the issue. government ban on Twitter, which describes the decision to suspend the operations of the very popular social media platform as an attempt to silence the government’s criticisms.

Authorities announced the ban on Friday, two days after Twitter fired a post from President Muhammadu Buhari threatening to punish regional secessionists.

The government’s move provoked a immediate reaction among social media users and human rights activists, with #NigeriaTwitterBan and #KeepitOn trending on the platform while Nigerians are using virtual private networks to access the site. The government has said that those who continue to use Twitter will process.

On Tuesday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Responsibilities Project (SERAP), a local rights group, and 176 Nigerians filed a lawsuit in the Court of Justice of the West African Economic Community in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. , calling for an interim government inhibition to implement the ban.

“The suspension of Twitter is intended to intimidate and prevent Nigerians from using Twitter to assess government policies, expose corruption and criticize acts of official impunity by Federal Government agents,” he says. cause, according to the group.

Kolawole Oluwadare, deputy director of SERAP, said the ban “has negatively affected millions of Nigerians who carry out their daily activities and operational activities on Twitter,” calling it “the final proof of the decline of civilian space in Nigeria and ‘the government’s intention is to stifle any dissenting voice.’

‘Wrong decision’

In 2021, Nigeria is ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the World Press Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Freedom Index.

Africa’s most populous country has been hailed as one of the few on the continent that attracts investment in its technology ecosystem, but it was only recently sparked when Twitter chose neighboring Ghana for its first location. African.

Gbenga Sesan, executive director of the Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and rights, he told Al Jazeera the suspension of Twitter has sent the wrong signal to foreign investors, adding that small businesses that use Twitter as a source of livelihood in Nigeria would be affected.

“Companies in Nigeria use digital media to reach out to customers, expose their brands and communicate with various actors. This will definitely be influenced by this erratic decision,” he said.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the suspension had nothing to do with Buhari’s tweet being removed, but rather with “separatists inciting violence” online.

“The regulation of social networks is not about stifling freedom of the press. All that is being talked about is the responsible use of these platforms, ”Mohammed said, adding that Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube were always accessible.

Nigeria has joined countries such as China, North Korea and Iran in posting a ban on Twitter, while Uganda, Turkey and Egypt have suspended application during elections or political unrest. .

U.S. society said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” that Internet access was “an essential human right in modern society” and would “work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate ”.

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