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Twitter ban: CSO urges FG to implement ECOWAS verdict

Twitter ban: CSO urges FG to implement ECOWAS verdict

Barely a week after the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice’s verdict on Nigeria’s ban on Twitter, a civil society organisation, Media Rights Agenda, has urged the Federal Government to immediately take steps to implement the judgment.

Gadgets Africa reported that ECOWAS adjudged the indefinite suspension of access to Twitter in Nigeria by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd) as unlawful.

ECOWAS also noted that the suspension which started from 5 June 2021 to 13 January 2022 violated the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

MRA in a statement issued on Monday by the Head of MRA’s Legal Department, Ms Obioma Okonkwo, reminded the government that under Article 15(4) of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, judgments of the Court are binding on Nigeria as a member State. While Article 22(3) of the Protocol of the Community Court Justice, as amended by the Supplementary Protocol of the Court, stipulates that “Member States and institutions of the Community shall take immediately all necessary measures to ensure execution of the decision of the Court.”

She said in the light of the provisions and the judgment of the Court, Nigeria was under a legal obligation to amend its laws and policies to bring them into conformity with the African Charter and the ICCPR as well as to guarantee that the suspension of Twitter would not re-occur, as directed by the court.

Okonkwo said that the consequential order made by the Court in its judgment, directed the Government to lift the suspension of Twitter since the suspension was in contravention of Article 9 of the African Charter and Article 19 of the ICCPR.

“It also ordered the government to take necessary steps to align its policies and other measures to give effect to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the African Charter and the ICCPR.

“The Court further directed the Government to undertake an act of legislative or other measures on its rules regarding Twitter to enable the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under the African Charter and asked it to guarantee a non-repetition of the unlawful ban of Twitter.

“Specifically, it ordered Nigeria to ensure the unlawful suspension of Twitter would not reoccur and to take necessary steps to amend its laws to be in conformity with the rights and freedoms enshrined in the ACHPR and ICCPR,” she said.

According to her, the court’s orders were contained in its judgment in four consolidated suits filed by MRA, other non-governmental organisations, journalists, and some Nigerian citizens challenging the Government’s June 2021 decision to suspend access to Twitter in Nigeria.

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