President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have been sued by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the suspension of Twitter in the country.
“The actions and directives of the respondents gravely infringed the fundamental rights of the applicant (NBA),” the association argued in the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
No law criminalises the use of Twitter in Nigeria, the association said.
Mr Buhari and the other respondents, it continued, “suspended the operations of the microblogging and social media website in Nigeria unilaterally, without due process, and in violation of the applicant’s constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
The association urged the court to rule that the Twitter ban was “a violent violation of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression and the press, as guaranteed under sections 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended 2011), articles 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 1983, and Articles 19 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 1983.”
It also asked the court to rule that the government’s threat to prosecute and imprison any Nigerian caught using the microblogging site in Nigerian cyberspace “amounted to a breach of the applicant’s right to a fair hearing and his right not to be tried and convicted for an offense not prescribed in written law.”
It also asked for an injunction “setting aside the respondents’ purported directives/fiat/order” prohibiting the use of microblogging and social media websites in Nigerian cyberspace.
Ng Times has reported that the NBA threatened to sue the government over the highly criticized Twitter ban.
The NBA said on Tuesday, through its media secretary, Raps Nduka, that it had filed the lawsuit on June 18, just two weeks after the government declared the Twitter ban on June 4.