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Published On: Thu, Jun 10th, 2021

Twitter Ban: Chief Omirhobo Drags FG To ECOWA Court, Demands N510m As Damage


LAGOS JUNE 10TH (URHOBOTODAY)-A lawyer cum human rights activist, Chief Malcom Emokiniovo Omirhobo, has dragged the President Muhammadu Buhari led-government before Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court, sitting in Abuja, Nigeria, for banning micro blogging site, Twitter.
Omirhobo in a suit dated June 7, 2021 and filed through online same date, asked the court to declare that there is no law enacted by the country’s legislature, which authorized the Twitter ban by the federal government through the Minister of Information and Culture.
He also asked for a declaration that he has the right to use VPN to access his Twitter account and cannot be arrested or criminally prosecuted for using VPN by the Federal government, its agents, servants or privies.
He declared that the act of the Federal government through the Attorney-General of the Federation, who ordered the arrest and criminal prosecution of Nigerian citizens, who are using VPN to access their Twitter accounts, constitutes a continued violation of the Plaintiff’s right to freedom of association, speech and expression, as he intends to access his Twitter account through VPN.
The lawyer is also asking for a declaration that the act of the Federal government through the Minister of Information and Culture placing indefinite ban on Twitter from operating in Nigeria, which hampered his access to his Twitter account, constitutes a violation to his rights to freedom of association, speech and expression, and principles guaranteed and enshrined under Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Principles 37 to 42 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of expression and Access to Information in Africa (65th Ordinary Session, November, 2019); Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; and Section 39(1) of the Defendant’s 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He further asked for a declaration that the acts of the Federal government, that is, Twitter ban, order of arrest and criminal prosecution of the Nigerian citizens, who are using VPN, through the Minister of Information and Culture, and the AGF, have interfered with his rights to the freedom of association, speech and expression and consequently, contrary to his fundamental freedoms and principles guaranteed and enshrined under Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Principles 37 to 42 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of expression and Access to Information in Africa (65th Ordinary Session, November, 2019); Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Articles 11, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; and Sections 36(8) and 39(1) of the Defendant’s 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Omirhobo equally want the court to declare that the acts of the Federal government through the Minister of Information and Culture, and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) which have interfered with his rights to the freedom of association, speech and expression were not authorized by any law enacted by its National Assembly. And a declaration that federal government’s act through the Minister of Information and Culture, and AGF, which have interfered with hiss rights to the freedom of association, speech and expression are arbitrary, unlawful and contrary to all well known international laws on human rights, to which the Federal government has become a party.
The human right lawyer asked for a court order voiding and annulling the order of the Federal government through AGF, directing the arrest and criminal prosecution of the Nigerian citizens, who used VPN to access their Twitter account, so as to enable him to access his Twitter account via VPN without any threat of arrest or prosecution.
He also seeks an order of the court directing the federal government to pay him the sum of N500 million as damages for exemplary and aggravated damages for unlawful violation of his rights; the Defendant’s actions being negligent, oppressive, arbitrary, capacious, and for injuring the feeling of the Plaintiff and for causing him great physical and psychological distress and trauma. And an order for payment of the sum of N10 million, being the cost of instituting the suit.
An order compelling the Federal government to withdraw the ban on Twitter and have the withdrawal published in all the major National dailies within the Country. And an order
Furthermore, the lawyer asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal government, its agencies, servants and privies from further doing anything either by way of official policy, instruction and/or investigation that will in any way impede against the existence and operation of his rights to freedom of association, speech and expression in a democratic society which are guaranteed as fundamental freedoms under Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Principles 37 to 42 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of expression and Access to Information in Africa (65th Ordinary Session, November, 2019); Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and Section 39(1) of the Defendant’s Constitution.
The suit against the federal government, according to the human rights lawyer, is pursuant to Article 33 of the Rules of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice 2002; Article11 of the ECOWAS Court Protocol A/P.I/7/91 (“The Protocol”); Article 59 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty (“The Revised Treaty”); Article 3 of the ECOWAS Practice Directions on Electronics Case Management and Virtual Court Sessions, 2020; and Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples? Rights (“the African Charter”);
It is also pursuant to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Principles 37 to 42 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of expression and Access to Information in Africa ( 65th Ordinary Session, November, 2019); Articles 11, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“The ICCPR”) and Sections 36(8) 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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