Rights group goes to court over Nigerian government's failure
Twitter had returned to the country after a seven-month ban
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian rights group, has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammed Buhari at the Federal High Court (Lagos). It sued over the government's failure to publish a copy of the agreement recently signed between the federal government and Twitter, the social media giant.
The rights group joined Alhaji Lai Muhammed, the country's minister of information and culture, as a respondent in the lawsuit.
Last June, the federal government had indefinitely suspended Twitter following the removal of President Buhari's tweet for violating the rules of service. The tweet referred to the 1967 Nigerian Civil War suggesting that it might be appropriate to inflict violence upon the regional secessionist groups.
Subsequently, SERAP had filed a lawsuit against the ban, alleging that it violated the citizens' human rights. The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States is scheduled to soon decide whether to go ahead and make a ruling on the issue.
The Nigerian government had recently lifted the ban after signing an agreement with Twitter. As per the agreement, Twitter agreed to open a local office and work with the federal government for developing a code of conduct.
The government stated that Twitter had agreed to "act with a respectful acknowledgement of the Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built."
In the lawsuit filed against the president and the minister of information and culture, the rights group argued that it was in the interest of justice to grant the application.
It said that publishing the agreement would enable the Nigerians to scrutinize it, seek appropriate legal remedies and ensure that the conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter were not used as pretexts to suppress the legitimate discourse.
In addition, Twitter would, henceforth, "promote transparency, accountability, and help to mitigate online threats to Nigerians' rights, as well as any interference with online privacy and freedom of expression," SERAP maintained.