The Federal Government has told ECOWAS Court that the ban placed on Twitter does not violate the freedom of expression of Nigerians.
Nigerian government argued that banning Twitter had criminalized the operations of the Twitter in Nigeria.
“The subject matter of the SERAP suit relates to the indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. This is not in any way connected to any Nigerian or SERAP. Individual user’s Twitter accounts are not suspended.”
“The right to freedom of expression is completely different from freedom of reach. The suspension of Twitter does not fall under the provisions of arts 8 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” the government argued.
“Twitter as an entity is not an organization of any member state as it is an American microblogging networking service. The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is not a right recognized under any treaty enforceable by this Court.
“In the unlikely event that this Honourable Court agrees with SERAP that the suspension of Twitter is a fundamental right, the dissolution or liquidation of twitter as a profit-making entity may as well open a floodgate and vest the users the rights of a non-existent right.
“Twitter is a profit-making entity which can be proscribed/dissolved in compliance with any national laws. The compulsory shut down of an entity cannot be termed the breach of any fundamental rights by this Honourable Court.
“The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is in compliance with the provisions of sections 420, 419 of the Penal Code [Northern Nigeria]; Federal Provisions Act, and section 58 of the Criminal Code Act. The operation of Twitter is in violation of Nigerian domestic legislation.”
Details of the arguments by the parties and the ruling by the court were sent to
The Nigerian government also argued that the ECOWAS Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
“Ground Two: This Court lacks the jurisdiction to determine the criminalization of an act under Nigerian laws. The subject matter of the SERAP suit borders on the criminalization of Twitter operation in Nigeria pursuant to the Penal Code and the Criminal Code.”
“The use and operation of Twitter in Nigeria constitutes the offences of Importation of Prohibited publication under sections 420 and 421 or the offence of possession of seditious articles under section 419 of the Penal Code Federal Provisions Act.”
“In any event there is a right of action vested in the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, the said right vests directly on Twitter and not individual users of Twitter. This is more so that individual user’s Twitter accounts were not tempered but only the operation of Twitter.”
“Nigerians and SERAP have no cause of action. The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is in compliance with the provisions of sections 420, 419 of the Penal Code and section 58 of the Criminal Code, and sections 78 and 79 of CAMA 2020.”