Responding to today’s judgement of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, Amnesty International Nigeria’s Country Director, Osai Ojigho said:
“We welcome the decision of the ECOWAS court today regarding the arbitrary suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. It is a major step in the right direction and further affirms the demand by Nigerians for freedom of expression and a free media.
While we note that the Nigerian authorities have lifted the ban on Twitter, Amnesty International remains concerned about ongoing attempts to repress the right to freedom of expression in Nigeria.
In our Amicus Brief in support of the plaintiff’s submission to the ECOWAS Court, Amnesty International emphasized that the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria was done without any legal justification as recognized under international human rights law and that this represents a violation of Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are pleased that the ECOWAS court agreed with our submission.
With this judgment, therefore, the Nigerian authorities must take steps to remove all barriers, repressive laws and policies that limit fundamental freedoms and free media in Nigeria.” Nigeria must also comply with the terms of the judgment which requires the authorities to refrain from violating Freedom of Expression online and fulfil its obligations under various international human rights standards that it has acceded to.Osai Ojigho, Country Director Amnesty International Nigeria
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Today’s ruling in the case between the registered trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and other concerned Nigerians against the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the ECOWAS court, found that the ban is unlawful and a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
In June 2021, SERAP (suing for itself and on behalf of other concerned Nigerians) and 3 other plaintiffs filed different lawsuits against the Federal Republic of Nigeria challenging, “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter.” The ECOWAS Court consolidated all the suits on 9 July 2021 since they were on the same issue and heard them together. Amnesty International submitted an Amicus Brief to provide the ECOWAS Court with information on international legal and human rights standards and jurisprudence relating to the right to Freedom of Expression, rights to hold opinions, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas including to exercise the right to freedom of expression offline and online.
The ECOWAS Court had previously found in Amnesty International Togo & Others v Togo that blocking the internet constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of Expression.