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ECOWAS restrains FG from imposing sanctions on twitter users

The ECOWAS Court of Justice, sitting in Abuja, has restrained the Nigerian government and its agents from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Twitter and any other social media service providers, media houses, the Plaintiffs and other Nigerian Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed against the government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, and 176 others.

The plaintiffs argue in the suit that the alleged unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and criminalization of people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.

A three- man -panel presided over by the Vice President of the Ecowas Court, Justice Gberi‐be Ouattara, gave the order after hearing argument from the counsel to SERAP, Chief Femi Falana and Counsel to the government, Mr. Maimuna Shiru.

Justice Quattara ordered the Nigerian government to implement the order immediately.

Reacting to the ruling, Chief Falana said the intervention of the ECOWAS Court was a timely relief for millions of citizens using Twitter who had been threatened with prosecution by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition.

The matter has been adjourned until the 6th of next month for hearing of the substantive suit.

IFEOMA NWOVU

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