The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the federal government’s directive to Nigerian broadcasters to stop using Twitter.
The ban affects all television and radio stations licenced by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
SERAP said the order was a ploy to harass, intimidate, suspend or impose criminal punishment on journalists and broadcast stations for using social media platforms.
The government’s action followed the Twitter deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet several users flagged as offensive.
The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/496/2021, SERAP is seeking an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the government, Information Minister Lai Mohammed, the NBC, and others from censoring and controlling the social media operations and contents.
The rights group is also seeking an order declaring the NBC action unconstitutional and inconsistent with the Nigerian constitution of 1999 [as amended], and the country’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
SERAP accused the Buhari administration of crackdown on media freedom, the rights of citizens 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 the 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,” the organization warned.