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#TwitterBan: 27 CSOs Back SERAP’s Appeal of Court Ruling Dismissing Suit Against Nigerian Government

At least 27 Civil Society Organisations have shown solidarity with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) as the latter moves to appeal a judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dismissing its suit against the Nigerian government.

Recall that in June 2021, the Incorporated Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/496/21, against three defendants.

In the suit, SERAP sued the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Director-General of NBC and the Minister of Information and Culture as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

This was after NBC had ordered all broadcast outfits immediately suspend patronage of the American tech company after it was banned for violating Nigerian laws.

But on Thursday, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a judgment, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit and awarded the sum of N100,000 against the plaintiff.

Reacting, SERAP had noted that it would challenge the misapplication of the law even if it required going to the Supreme Court as it stated that it would uphold freedom of expression, access to information, transparency and accountability in the country.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the groups said, “We, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the intimidation and harassment of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), an independent anti-corruption watchdog, and end escalating intimidation and aggression towards human rights defenders and journalists.

“Following SERAP’s public interest cases brought against the Government, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu issued a statement warning the organisation to “desist from putting out its divisive, irresponsible, and bare-faced publicity stunts.

“According to Mr Shehu, “SERAP should stop the publicity stunt and end the repeated ridiculous claims that it is bringing legal action against the Government and/or President of Nigeria.”

“We are seriously concerned that this intimidating tactic by the government against SERAP solely for peacefully carrying out its mandates illustrates the growing repression of civil society, attacks on journalists, and restriction of civic space in Nigeria.

“Continuous and increasing attacks and intimidation against civil society organizations, human rights and journalists in the country is antithetical to Nigeria’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights both of which the country has ratified.

“We are concerned that the attack on SERAP is clearly aimed at creating a climate of intimidation against civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and journalists in the country. The targeting of civil society organizations and human rights defenders will have a chilling effect on the promotion and protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law in the country.

“The government must strongly condemn the threats, harassment, and intimidation of SERAP and other groups, human rights defenders and journalists and ensure a conducive environment for them to carry out their work and operate freely without any fear of reprisals.”

The groups which signed the statement were; Amnesty International Nigeria, Human Rights Watch, Adopt A Goal Initiative, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria), Femi Falana SAN, Access to Justice Sterling Centre for Law & Development, Justice Support Network, Paradigm Initiative, Connected Development (CODE), Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Justice for Peace and Development Initiative, M.H.O.G Foundation and TechHerNG.

Others were; Sesor, Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Global Rights, NOPRIN, Alliances for Africa (AfA), Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), Centre for Impact Advocacy, Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE), and the Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).

Featured Image Credit: A man carries a banner during a demonstration in Lagos, Nigeria, on June 12. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES



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Copyright 2021 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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