The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja in a landmark ruling on Tuesday, restrained the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and its agents from imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever against anyone using twitter.
The court gave the ruling in an application filed by the rights activists, Femi Falana, on behalf of the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
SERAP and 176 concerned Nigerians had a few weeks ago dragged the federal government to court over the June 4 suspension of Twitter operation in the country.
The government had claimed that the microblogging platform was suspended because of its persistent use for activities threatening the country’s corporate existence.
But SERAP argued that the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and criminalisation of the users of the platform in the country had led to suppression of human rights and restricted the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression, access to information in the country.
The court held that Twitter is a fundamental right, and the federal government cannot arrest or prosecute anybody for using it.
It said: “The court has listened very well to the objection by Nigeria. The court has this to say. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as an inference with human rights, and that will violate human rights. Therefore, this court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also hereby orders that the application be heard expeditiously. The Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order.”