NEWS: Nigeria
TWITTER VERSUS BUHARI
A rights group is suing the Nigerian government for not publishing its agreement with Twitter.

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.

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