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NBA drags Buhari, NCC, 2 others to court over Twitter ban

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari and three others to a Federal High Court in Lagos over the ban of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, were joined as co-respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/613/2021.

In the suit, the NBA alleged that President Buhari and other respondents “unilaterally, without due process and contrary to the constitutionally guaranteed rights of its members and other citizens, suspended the operations of the microblogging and social media website” in Nigeria.

It said the actions and directives of the respondents gravely infringed on the fundamental rights of Nigerians as long as there was no law that criminalises the use of Twitter in Nigeria.

The Association further argued that It is also unlawful and unconstitutional for the AGF to threaten the arrest and prosecution of Nigerians and entities found using the microblogging and social media platform.

Justifying the filing of the suit, the lawyers’ umbrella body noted that by virtue of Paragraph 3 (e) of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009. “any civil society, human right group, or association can file an action to enforce the fundamental rights of any person or group of persons”.

It added that many members of the NBA also have Twitter accounts and follow the Association on its Twitter handle, which is being used to disseminate legal, social and economic information to its members.

A lawyer, Solomon Oho, who deposed to an affidavit in support of the suit, averred that he is living in fear that he, members of the NBA, and other Nigerians could “be arrested and prosecuted for using the social media platform in line with the AGF’s directive.

“I do not know of any law that criminalizes the use of microblogging and social media website. Twitter in Nigeria was unilaterally suspended by the respondents without due process and contrary to the constitutionally guaranteed rights,” the deponent further averred.

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