In defense of Nigerian using social media platform, twitter, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 365 concerned Nigerians have approach a Federal High Court in Abuja, requesting that it dismisses the suit filed by All Progressives Congress [APC], Adamu Garba, which seeks to shut down twitter and prevent it from operating within the Nigerian cyberspace.
The applicants said that the suit filed by the APC chieftain, if approved, would ultimately restrict Nigerians from having rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and media freedom in the country.
SERAP and most 365 concerned Nigerians further argued that the move was at variance with fundamental human rights as contained in the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 [as amended], Fundamental Rights [Enforcement Procedure] Rules, 2009, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the country was a party to.
Adamu, former Presidential aspirant of the APC, filed a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1391/2020 seeking to compel the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] to stop the operation of Twitter International Company in Nigeria after Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Jack Dorsey, endorsed the EndSARS campaign in the country.
It would be recalled that some African countries like Burundi and Sudan have in the past shut down social media in waves of repression in these countries.
SERAP and 365 concerned Nigerians, however in the application filed by their lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, stated that its suit was to protect millions of Nigerians that relied in the platform to disseminate information.
They added that the suit would impact their capability to use Twitter, as a social media platform, to carry out their work centered on promotion of transparency and accountability, and respect for socio-economic rights of Nigerians, as well as seriously undermine people’s fundamental rights.
Through a statement made available to The Guild on Sunday, SERAP and 365 concerned Nigerians said: “We have shown sufficient legal interest to warrant the granting of this application, as this will serve the interest of fair hearing, guaranteed by section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution, and natural justice rule of audi alteram partem, meaning that in any dispute the court must hear the other side.”
“SERAP, 365 concerned Nigerians and other Twitter users will be grossly affected if the orders being sought by Mr Garba are granted by the court, as his suit is seeking to undermine the constitutionally and internationally recognized rights of people to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and media freedom.”
“SERAP is a registered Twitter user with the handle @SERAPNigeria which it uses to carry out its work to promote transparency and accountability and respect for socio-economic rights of everyone, especially the socially and economically vulnerable sectors of the population.”
“SERAP and 365 concerned Nigerians seek to be joined as Respondents and to be heard as of right, in line with the Nigerian Constitution and the provisions of Order XIII Rule I of the Fundamental Rights [Enforcement Procedure] Rules 2009. Under paragraph 3(d)(e) of the preamble to the Rules, we are not required or expected to disclose by affidavit any interest in the matter.”
“SERAP and 365 concerned Nigerians are also seeking an order directing Mr Garba to serve and provide us with all the originating processes and papers filed in this suit, and for such further orders or orders as this court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.