Paradigm Initiative (PIN) on behalf of Abdikhayr M. Hussein, Bareedo Platform Somalia, Access Now, AfriSIG Alumni, African Academic Network on Internet Policy, and other civil society actors have sent a strong-worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, calling on his to rescind his decision suspect Twitter’s operations in that country.
Below is the letter
Call on the Nigerian government to rescind its indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria
Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR
The Honorable Minister of Information and Culture,
The Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and
The Honorable Minister of Justice
We, the undersigned organizations working to ensure that human rights are protected, write to appeal to you to rescind the indefinite suspension on the social media network, Twitter which was announced by the Federal Government of Nigeria on 4 June 2021.
Legal i.e. provided for by a law which is clear and sufficiently precise as to the extent of the limitation;
Legitimate i.e. done to protect the rights of others;
Necessary in a democratic society i.e. no other means exists to address the harm in question and
Proportionate: i.e. the limitation on the right must not be overboard.
In assessing the requirements for necessity, legality, legitimacy and proportionality the following can be noted, first, there is currently no clear and sufficiently precise law in Nigeria that provides for such action by the Nigerian government. Second, the Nigerian government is yet to demonstrate how the suspension protects the rights of others. Third, the Nigerian government is yet to show that it has used the ‘least intrusive means’ of addressing the harm purported caused before the suspension. Fourth, the Nigerian government has failed to demonstrate that its actions to suspend Twitter’s operations was not excessive and over-reaching.
These show that since the indefinite suspension took effect on 5 June 2021, there has been no credible evidence that it was effective at achieving any legitimate aim. If anything, it has negatively impacted Nigeria economically and further infringed on the rights of many Nigerians.
It is also important to note that these permissible restrictions allowed under international human rights law must be jointly fulfilled and not in parts. For example, it is still a violation of the right to freedom of expression if any of the requirements are complied with and others are not.
These requirements seem to be the basis of the recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court) on 22 June 2021 restraining the government and its agents,
from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the Plaintiffs and other Nigerians who are Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
Given this background, we request that the Federal Government of Nigeria should:
Restore access of all Nigerians to Twitter;
Ensure that the Internet, including social media platforms like Twitter are open, free, and accessible;
Engage all stakeholders including the civil society, academics, human rights institutions, the private sector on the best approach to social media regulation and
Put measurable and specific processes in place to promote, protect and fulfil all human rights online and offline.
Kindly let us know if you need additional clarification on our letter.
Paradigm Initiative (PIN) on behalf of: