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Nigerian Rights Group Seeking to Compel Gov’t to Make Public Twitter Restoration Agreement

A Nigerian Rights Group has moved to the High Court, seeking to compel the government to reveal details that led to the restoration of social media giant Twitter in the country.

The Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) filed a lawsuit seeking to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to publish a copy of the agreement that led to the lifting of the six-month Twitter ban in the country.

The Nigerian government suspended the social media network after the company deleted a tweet by President Buhari. Last month, the ban which had been in effect for six months was lifted after Twitter agreed to meet a number of conditions set by the government.

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Among the conditions was the set-up of a local office in the West African country and an agreement to collaborate with the Nigerian government to develop a code of conduct. SERAP now wants the Buhari and Information Minister Lai Mohammed to make public the details of the agreement to ensure that the citizens’ freedom of expression will not be curtailed.

“Publishing the agreement would enable Nigerians to scrutinise it, seek legal remedies as appropriate, and ensure that the conditions for lifting the suspension of Twitter are not used as pretexts to suppress legitimate discourse,” a copy of the court challenge said.

According to the rights organization, the government ignored a request to have the agreement details published in January.

Read also: Kenya Denies Involvement in Arrest, Deportation of Nigerian Separatist Leader Kanu

Last year, various rights groups and a section of members of the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Information, Justice, and Communication criticized the ban, saying it was meant to stifle free speech. They said the country was taking a step towards autocracy.

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States is expected to make a decision on SERAP’s challenge to the Twitter ban this week. The government however wants the case thrown out, claiming that it has been overtaken by events.

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