A legal rights group has sued Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to force his government to publish the agreement that allowed Twitter to return to the West African country last month after a seven-month ban.
In June 2021, Nigeria suspended Twitter after the company deleted a tweet from President Buhari that threatened to punish local dissidents. At the time, Twitter said it was “deeply concerned” about the country’s actions, noting that it considered an open Internet “an essential human right in modern society.”
On January 13, Nigeria lifted the ban after the company agreed, among other conditions, to open a local office and work with the government to co-develop a code of conduct. On Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) filed a suit in the country’s High Court to compel President Buhari and Information Minister Lai Mohammed to publish a copy of the agreement.
“Publication of the agreement with Twitter would promote transparency, accountability and help mitigate threats to the rights of Nigerians online, as well as any interference with online privacy and freedom of expression,” SERAP said. “Any agreement with social media companies must meet the constitutional requirements of legality, necessity, proportionality and legitimacy.”
SERAP said it tried to obtain a copy of the agreement through a freedom of information request. It is suing in part because the government returned with an “unsatisfactory” response to that request. Minister Mohammed reportedly told the group that the details of the arrangement were already “in the public domain” and did not provide a copy.
As Reuters notes, SERAP was among several groups that went to court to fight Nigeria’s ban on Twitter. The Economic Community of West African States’ Court of Justice is set to rule this week on whether to rule on the case.