Legal Nigeria

EIE, other civil society groups sue telcos over Twitter ban in Nigeria

ADEBOLA AJAYI 

Enough is Enough, Paradigm Initiative, and Media Rights Agenda

Enough is Enough, Paradigm Initiative, and Media Rights Agenda

A coalition of civil society groups has taken legal action against telecommunications companies and network providers in Nigeria for their roles in the blockade of access to Twitter in Nigeria.

The trio of Enough is Enough, Paradigm Initiative, and Media Rights Agenda, in a joint press statement, condemned the actions of the telecommunications companies on the Twitter ban.

The coalition said that the directives by the federal government on June 4, 2021, to ban Twitter is against the country’s law and an abuse of the rights of Nigerians.

“Following the suspension of twitter in Nigeria in June 2021, it was evident that the government did not have the sole responsibility of the disregard for human rights,” the statement reads.

“A directive not rooted in law cannot be a basis for the abuse of the human rights of millions of Nigerians.

“It is to this effect that EIE Nigeria as the sole applicant coordinating with other organizations including Paradigm Initiative and Media Rights Agenda has instituted a class action suit against telecommunications companies MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9mobile for an enforcement of fundamental rights.”

Following the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, the civil society groups in their lawsuit stated that “the blockage of Twitter access was unlawful, unconstitutional and against the rights to freedom of expression.”

The coalition wants the court to stop the respondents from restraining, blocking or interfering with Twitter and any other social media platform in Nigeria.

In June 2021, the federal government banned Twitter, claiming that the micro-blogging site was being used to spread fake information and promote hate speech, threatening the country’s security.

The ban follows Twitter’s deletion of a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, deemed genocidal against the Igbos after Nigerians reported the post for violating the site’s community rule.

For over 60 days, Twitter has remained banned in the country, and Nigerians have had to use VPNs to bypass the restriction placed by telecoms companies and network providers in Nigeria.

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