You don’t have jurisdiction to criminalize suspending Twitter

The federal government says the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria is not a right recognized by any treaty enforceable by the ECOWAS tribunal.

The government said this in a preliminary objection filed Tuesday to challenge the continuation of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians, regarding his directive to prosecute those who violated the suspension.

Depending on the costume that was, however, fired, the government argued that the court had no jurisdiction to “determine the criminalization of an act under Nigerian laws”.

He said Twitter is a microblogging site and not “a member state organization”.

“The right to freedom of expression is completely different from the freedom of access. The suspension of Twitter does not fall under the provisions of Article 8 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ”he said.

“The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is not a right recognized by any treaty enforceable by this Court.

“In the unlikely event that this Honorable Court agrees with SERAP that suspending Twitter is a fundamental right, the dissolution or liquidation of Twitter as a for-profit entity may also open a floodgate and give users the rights to an existing lawlessness.

“Twitter is a for-profit entity which may be banned / terminated under all national laws. The forced closure of an entity cannot be characterized as a violation of fundamental rights by this Honorable Court.

“The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria complies with the provisions of Articles 420, 419 of the Criminal Code [Northern Nigeria]; Federal Provisions Act and section 58 of the Criminal Code Act. The operation of Twitter is in violation of Nigerian national law.

“Second ground: this Court does not have jurisdiction to determine the criminalization of an act under Nigerian laws.

“The subject matter of the SERAP prosecution borders on the criminalization of Operation Twitter in Nigeria under the Penal Code and the Penal Code.

“The use and exploitation of Twitter in Nigeria constitutes the offense of importing prohibited publications under sections 420 and 421 or the offense of possession of seditious articles under section 419 of the federal provisions of the Penal Code.

“In any event, there is a right of action conferred on the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, said right is vested directly on Twitter and not on individual Twitter users. This is especially since the Twitter accounts of individual users were not tempered but only the functioning of Twitter.

The government said that “Nigerians and SERAP have no cause of action,” adding that the suspension of Twitter is supported by the provisions of the Companies and Related Affairs Act 2020.

Thelma J. Longworth

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