FG, Lai Mohammed sued by SERAP for banning broadcasters from Twitter
SERAP states that Buhari’s administration has made policies and directives to cut down the freedom of media in Nigeria.
Following the events of the indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) through the government’s directive has asked broadcast stations in Nigeria to close their Twitter accounts.
The regulator states that the use of Twitter goes against Section 2(1) of the NBC Act, further stating that it would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster to continue to patronise the social media platform at this time.
However, in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/496/2021, and filed on behalf of the organisation by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi, and Opeyemi Owolabi, SERAP asked the court to restrain
“The government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Mohammed and any other persons from censoring, regulating, licensing, and controlling the social media operations and contents by broadcast stations”.
The organisation also sought “an order setting aside the directive by NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed asking broadcast stations to stop using Twitter, as it is unconstitutional, unlawful, inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and the country’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
SERAP argued that Buhari’s government has consistently made policies and directives to cut down the freedom of media, and the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information.
“The court has an important role to play in the protection and preservation of the rule of law to ensure that persons and institutions operate within the defined ambit of constitutional and statutory limitations.
“Where agencies of government are allowed to operate at large and at their whims and caprices in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result will be anarchy, licentiousness, authoritarianism, and brigandage leading to the loss of the much cherished and constitutionally guaranteed freedom and liberty.
“By using the National Broadcasting Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to stop broadcast stations from using Twitter without recourse to the court, the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed have contravened the right to access to justice and fair hearing guaranteed under sections 6 & [b] and 36 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, and articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” SERAP said.
The organisation maintained that the directive by NBC and Mohammed to broadcasters is not awful, as it breaches the fundamental principle of legality, the freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom.
SERAP also stated that the directive was “incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
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