Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari over “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter, and the escalating repression of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.”
Following the deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed last week announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. The government has also threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has asked all broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter.
In the suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21 filed today before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, SERAP and the concerned Nigerians are seeking: “An order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and subjecting anyone including media houses, broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria, to harassment, intimidation, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
In the suit filed by Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, the Plaintiffs contend that “if this application is not urgently granted, the Federal Government will continue to arbitrarily suspend Twitter and threaten to impose criminal and other sanctions on Nigerians, telecommunication companies, media houses, broadcast stations and other people using Twitter in Nigeria, the perpetual order sought in this suit might be rendered nugatory.”
The suit, read in part: “The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government.”
“The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints, and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.”
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment of this right is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy, but indispensable to a thriving civil society.”
“The arbitrary action by the Federal Government and its agents have negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter. The suspension has also impeded the freedom of expression of millions of Nigerians, who criticize and influence government policies through the microblogging app.”
“The suspension of Twitter is arbitrary, and there is no law in Nigeria today permitting the prosecution of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights through Twitter and other social media platforms.”
“The suspension and threat of prosecution by the Federal Government constitute a fundamental breach of the country’s international human rights obligations including under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“The suspension has seriously undermined the ability of Nigerians and other people in the country to freely express themselves in a democracy, and undermined the ability of journalists, media houses, broadcast stations, and other people to freely carry out their professional duties.”
“A lot of Nigerians at home and abroad rely on Twitter coverage of topical issues of public interest to access impartial, objective and critical information about ideas and views on how the Nigerian government is performing its constitutional and international human rights obligations.”
“The implication of the decline in freedom of expression in Nigeria is that the country is today ranked alongside countries hostile to human rights and media freedom such as Afghanistan, Chad, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and Colombia.”
SERAP and the concerned Nigerians are therefore asking the ECOWAS Court of Justice for the following reliefs:
1. A DECLARATION that the action of the Defendant and its agents in suspending the operation of Twitter or any other social media and microblogging application without an order of a competent court of jurisdiction is unlawful, inconsistent and incompatible with Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
2. A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendant in mandating its agent to commence and continue to regulate the social media in Nigeria amounts to restriction and censorship, thus violating Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3. A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendant and its agents in suspending the operation of Twitter or any other social media and microblogging application in Nigeria without any offence known to law is incompatible with Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, and are therefore null and void to the extent of their inconsistency and incompatibility.
4. A DECLARATION that the directive by the Defendant, through the National Broadcasting Commission, directing and ‘advising’ broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts and discontinue its use is a breach of the citizens’ right to freedom of expression, access to information as well as media freedom, and therefore, null and void.
5. A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendant to frequently threaten Nigerians and other people who use Twitter and/or other social microblogging applications in Nigeria with criminal prosecution and the actual act of suspending the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, violates the principle that there is no punishment without law, and the right to fair hearing, and therefore, null and void.
6. AN ORDER setting aside the suspension, ban, sanction or other punishments whatsoever imposed on Twitter, Nigerians, media houses, broadcast stations and any social media service providers by the Defendant and its agents.
7. AN ORDER directing the Defendant and its agents to immediately revoke, withdraw and/or rescind their suspension or ban of Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s) in Nigeria in line with Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Revised ECOWAS Treaty 1993.
8. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendant and its agents from unlawfully imposing sanctions and other punishment including criminal prosecution or doing anything whatsoever to harass Twitter, broadcast stations, Nigerians and other people and any social media service provider(s), and media houses who are Twitter users.
9. SUCH FURTHER orders the Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this suit.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the interim application and the substantive suit.
SERAP Deputy Director
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
For more information or to request an interview, please contact us on: +2348160537202
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR
SANWO-OLU LAUNCHES FIVE-YEAR CLIMATE ACTION PLAN FOR LAGOS, TARGETS REDUCED CARBON EMISSION IN KEY SECTORS
• Governor Revives State Climate Change Summit
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has unveiled a five-year Lagos State Climate Action Plan – a policy document that will make the State project impacts, coordinate responses and achieve resilience under challenging climate conditions till 2025.
The Second Five-Year Plan 2020-2025 is an updated action document succeeding the 2015 Climate Change Policy and Action Plan adopted by Lagos after the landmark Paris Climate Change Conference, which encapsulated the State’s vision for achieving a zero-carbon Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, launched the new action plan at the 8th Lagos State International Climate Change Summit organised by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.
The theme of the two-day event is: “Adapting Health, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation and Waste Infrastructure to the Long Term Impacts of Climate Change in Lagos.”
With the new document, the State Government will be responding to prevailing issues threatening the realisation of zero-carbon ambition, which are energy use, waste management and transport. They account for 90 per cent of total greenhouse gas emission in Lagos. The summit also focuses on the relationship between climate change and delivery of critical infrastructure transportation, agriculture and healthcare sectors.
Sanwo-Olu said the increased impacts of natural disasters felt across the world in the past year showed that climate change was no longer a speculative danger, but a real, phenomenal threat to humanity and safety of the environment.
Given the State’s topography and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the Governor said Lagos is vulnerable to adverse events resulting from natural causes. This, he said, prompted his administration to update the action plan to facilitate proactive response and clear strategy in mitigating the effects on global warming on the environment and the State economy.
He said: “This summit is an opportunity for us to present new Lagos State Climate Action Plan to the world. Painstaking effort has gone into it, and we are proud that we have been able to come up with a document that has robust plan for the environment. We have successfully updated the climate change action document adopted by Lagos in 2015 to reflect the targets and goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The final product is the ‘Lagos Climate Action Plan: Second Five-year Plan 2020- 2025.
“The updated Climate Action Plan reveals three main areas of threat to our zero-carbon ambition in Lagos, which are energy, waste and transport. They account for 90 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emission. We are now more adept at incorporating climate-friendly thinking into everything we do as a Government. Our goal is to entrench the action plan across the entire State, and get Lagosians imbibe the culture of climate-awareness in their homes, workplaces and lifestyles.”
Sanwo-Olu said most of the projects being undertaken by his administration were to address climate change and fast-track attainment of the zero-carbon goal in transportation, healthcare, energy, agriculture and waste management.
He said his Government’s public transport reform sought to reduce number of personal vehicles on the roads, by providing alternative transportation model in form of low-emission buses and rail connections.
The State Government, Sanwo-Olu pointed out, has adopted composting, recycling and waste-to-energy as part of the strategies to improve the quality of waste management in Lagos.
In the energy sector, Sanwo-Olu said the Government would be rolling out opportunities in usage of off-grid solar systems to connect public schools, hospitals, government offices and public facilities. He added that the State was looking into the exploring option of incentives to homes to move from fossil fuel generators to solar systems.
He said: “Lagos has been outstanding in the annual environmental reporting on the global disclosure system by the CDP, an international non-profit that measures the commitments of investors, companies, cities, states and regions to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. For three consecutive years, Lagos has emerged with a B score, which is well above the African and Global average score. This annual reporting has helped us greatly in understanding where we are and what still needs to be done.”
The Governor thanked his predecessors for laying the foundation of developing climate action plan, paving the way for consolidation by his administration.
Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the summit, since inception in 2009, had become a melting pot for researchers, investors, academicians and stakeholders in the environment and economic sectors to take unified decisions.
Bello praised Sanwo-Olu for bringing back the climate summit, five years after the event was held.
He said: “Around the world, Governments and businesses are planning for climate instability. From flood defences to foreign aid, climate change is now part of policy and public discussions. The theme of this summit cannot be more apt than now because we have reached a point where Lagos needs to be intentional on projects and programmes that will be climate change compliant.”
Consul General of Switzerland Embassy, Thomas Schneider, congratulated Lagos on the unveiling of the climate change action plan, noting that effects of environmental problems knew no borders.
The envoy stressed that the call for action must be reinforced, given the significant impacts, which degradation of agricultural land has had on global food security. He reiterated the commitment of Switzerland to international conventions and protocols on climate change in its bilateral dealings with Lagos.
The updated action plan was attended by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Speaker of House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa and members of the State Executive Council.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
JUNE 8, 2021
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR
SANWO-OLU MOURNS T.B JOSHUA
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has expressed sadness over the death of televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, who died on Saturday at 57.
Governor Sanwo-Olu in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the death of the founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, a Christian megachurch that runs the Emmanuel TV television station, was painful.
He urged the deceased family, friends, associates and entire members of The Synagogue Church of Nations as well as people and Government of Ondo State to take the death of Prophet T.B Joshua in good faith.
Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “no doubt the death of a loved one is usually painful as it is irreparable but we must always take solace in God, especially if the deceased had lived a good life, just like Prophet T.B Joshua who impacted people within and outside the shores of Nigeria positively”
He said: “The pastoral, wise counsel and philanthropic gestures of Prophet T.B Joshua will be sorely missed by his family, the less privileged and the entire members of The Synagogue Church of Nations, especially in Ikotun axis of Lagos State, where he played active roles as a cleric and philanthropist before he passed on.
“I sympathise with his family, friends, associates, widow of the deceased and the entire members of The Synagogue Church of Nations and the Ondo State Government. I pray that God will grant the late Prophet T.B Joshua eternal rest and grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
JUNE 8, 2021
June 7, 2021
Twitter Ban: PDP Cautions APC, FG Against Harassing Foreign Envoys
Considers Court Action, Civil Protests
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cautions the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government against harassing foreign envoys and other members of the international community for speaking out against the infringement on the rights of Nigerians by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The PDP’s position is predicated on the summoning of the envoys of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada among others by the Federal Government, for standing on the side of Nigerians in criticizing the unwarranted suspension of Twitter in our country.
The PDP is alarmed by the development which smacks of intolerance towards the international community as obtained in Idi Amin’s dictatorial Uganda of 1971 to 1979.
Our party notes that there is no law or statute that prohibits foreign envoys from speaking out against clear violation of internationally enshrined freedom of expression and right to social interactions as provided by Twitter and other social media platforms.
In fact, the defence of such rights is a fundamental duty which envoys owe their host nations and the international community.
The PDP therefore cautions that any harassment or assault on foreign envoys place them at great risk as well as pitch our nation against other members of the international community.
It is instructive for the APC and the Buhari administration to note that given the current downturn of our national life under their misrule, Nigeria cannot afford being declared a pariah nation.
The PDP is worried that the APC administration has been overheating our polity leading to escalation of insecurity, killings, bloodletting and violence in the country.
Nigerians would recall that ahead of the 2019 general elections, one of the leaders of the APC, the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, had threatened that some of the foreign election monitors would be returned to their countries in body bags.
Our party therefore demands that the Federal Government should listen to the voice of reason, end its misrule and desist from infringing on the rights of Nigerians as being witnessed in the illegal and vexatious ban on Twitter.
Already, the PDP is perfecting processes for a legal action against the APC-led Federal Government’s suspension of Twitter and the directive to broadcasting stations to pull out of Twitter.
In the same vein, our party is considering a directive to all our wards, local governments and state structure to commence peaceful civil protests against suspension of Twitter, the spate of insecurity and the failures of the Buhari administration.
National Publicity Secretary
Itsekiri Nation backs FG, honours Godswill Akpabio
• Makes case for NDDC Plum Job
• Wants East West Road project extended to Warri-Benin Road
Youths in Warri Kingdom on Friday night commended the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for his commitment to the cause of the region.
‘’We should all take a cue from this outstanding statesman and driving force behind the reinvention of the Niger Delta region’’
They also said that Akpabio had come to work, serve and make the Niger Delta region great.
‘’The Niger Delta region is progressing steadily’’
At a ceremony organised to honour Akpabio in Warri, the youths critically assessed Akpabio’s performance and scored it excellent.
Speaker after speaker hailed Akpabio for the multiple dividends of democracy, his efforts to revolutionize the Niger Delta region and uplift the lot of his people.
The youths expressed satisfaction with the level of performance of the development agency and the on-going NDDC forensic audit.
The event drew who-is-who in Warri Kingdom and many youths and elders from other parts of Delta State.
Chairman of All Itsekiri Youth Associations (AIYA), Dr. Omatshola Sagay, praised Akpabio for making the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) more responsive and accountable to all its principal stakeholders.
‘’Chief Godswill Akpabio is a pragmatic and visionary leader who thinks ahead of his people. He is the best thing happening in the Niger Delta region’’.
The Itsekiri youths and elders who spoke in one voice urged youths in other parts of the region to give peace a chance, which they said was necessary for development of the oil and non-oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region.
‘’Everybody in the Niger Delta region, irrespective of his/her status or political leaning should join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Godswill Akpabio in the onerous task of moving the Niger Delta region forward’’
They described the seven-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio to constitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or face a major breakdown of law and order in the Niger Delta by certain people as ridiculous.
The youths suggested that current moves to inaugurate a substantive Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should include the consideration of someone from Itsekiri nation.
Warri Kingdom is the highest oil producing area in Delta State.
They also urged Buhari to extend the construction of the East West Road to Warri -Benin Road.
Asking TV, radio stations to deactivate Twitter accounts unlawful, SERAP tells NBC
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned “the patently unlawful and unconstitutional directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to all broadcast stations in the country to suspend the patronage of Twitter with immediate effect.”
The NBC had reportedly stated that the decision followed the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over purported use of the platform for “activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
But SERAP in a statement today by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare stated: “This directive by the NBC is itself unlawful because it is based on another unlawful decision by the Federal Government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria. The NBC’s directive has political interference written all over it. It is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, media freedom, media independence and diversity. The directive must be immediately withdrawn.”
The statement, read in part: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. This