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Following a directive to all TV and radio stations not to use Twitter, and to delete their accounts, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a lawsuit soliciting for an order from the Federal High Court Abuja to stop the Federal Government and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Muhammed from using “patently unlawful directive” as a pretext to harass, intimidate, suspend or impose criminal punishment on journalists and broadcast stations simply for using social media platforms.
The development comes after a directive by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, asking TV and radio stations to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately” after the microblogging platform was indefinitely suspended in the country for deleting tweets of President Muhammadu Buhari.
SERAP in the seek is seeking “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Muhammed and any other persons from censoring, regulating, licensing and controlling the social media operations and contents by broadcast stations, and activities of social media service providers in Nigeria.”
In the suit, SERAP is also seeking “an order setting aside the directive by NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed 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 is arguing that “the government of President Buhari, the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed have consistently made policies and given directives to crack down on media freedom, and the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information, and to impose crippling fines and other sanctions on broadcast stations without any legal basis whatsoever.”
According to the organisation, “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.”
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.