The ECOWAS Court of Justice has fixed Friday, July 9, for the hearing of the Nigerian government’s application for the consolidation of the four suits relating to the ban on Twitter in the country.
Nigerian government’s lawyer, Abdullahi Abubakar, had filed the application on July 5, a statement by the court’s press unit said on Wednesday.
The statement said the court had to adjourn the hearing of the application because two out of the four parties suing the federal government over the Twitter ban were not represented in court at Wednesday’s proceedings.
Only the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), on one hand, and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and eight others, on the other hand, were represented by their lawyers.
The lawyers did not object to the respondent’s request for consolidation of the four pending suits.
“However the court observed that only two of the parties were represented in court and adjourned the matter to July 9, 2021, for all parties including the representatives of the parties absent at the proceeding to make their submissions on the application for consolidation,” the statement added.
Recall that the court on June 22, 2021, issued an interim order directing the Nigerian government and its agents to “refrain from imposing sanction on any media house or harassing, intimidating, arresting, and prosecuting the Applicants, concerned Nigerians for the use of Twitter and other social media platforms,” pending the determination of the substantive suit challenging the ban.
The ruling was delivered on the application filed by SERAP.
SERAP and its co-plaintiffs are challenging the government’s decision to suspend access to Twitter in Nigeria on the ground that it violated their rights to freedom of expression and press freedom among others.
They urged the court to declare the suspension a continuous violation of their rights.
The suit is being heard by a three-member panel of Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara, Keikura Bangura and Januaria Costa.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration had on June 4 banned Twitter in Nigeria two days after the microblogging site deleted a controversial tweet by him.