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ECOWAS court fixes July 9 to decide on suits opposing Twitter ban

The community court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday fixed July 9 to rule on an application seeking to consolidate different suits instituted against the federal government for banning Twitter. Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced Twitter’s suspension in a statement by his media aide Segun Adeyemi last…

A man looks at newspapers at a newsstand in Abuja, Nigeria June 5, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The community court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday fixed July 9 to rule on an application seeking to consolidate different suits instituted against the federal government for banning Twitter.

Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed announced Twitter’s suspension in a statement by his media aide Segun Adeyemi last month.

The Nigerian government’s spokesman cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the reason for the suspension.

According to Mohammed, the social media platform was engaging in activities that “undermine Nigeria’s existence.”

Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney-general, subsequently ordered the prosecution of anyone who violated the ban.

At the court session held virtually on Tuesday, Abdullahi Abubakar, counsel representing the federal government, informed the court of a motion dated July 5, 2021, seeking to consolidate all four suits related to the issue.

Femi Falana, counsel representing the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in suit ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, did not object to the application.

Falana said the application to consolidate will “afford the court the opportunity to give one judgment in the matters that were similar in nature and character”.

Also, Mojirayo Ogunlaya, counsel to Media Rights Agenda, in suit ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21, did not object to the application.

The court, however, noted that parties in two other cases marked as ECW/CCJ/APP/24/21 and ECW/CCJ/APP/26/21 were not in court, hence, a consolidation order cannot be made in their absence.

Consequently, the court fixed July 9 to decide on the application.

Previously, the court had issued an order restraining President Muhammadu Buhari or any member of his administration from prosecuting any Nigerian for using Twitter.