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SERAP Rejects Buhari’s Conditions for Lifting Twitter Ban

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SERAP

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has rejected the conditions listed by President Muhammadu Buhari for lifting the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

A statement issued on Sunday by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, urged the President to withdraw the clauses to allow the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja to render a decision on the central issues in the case and protect the plaintiffs’ rights and interests.

Mr Buhari had stated in his address to mark Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary that the federal government would only remove the Twitter ban if certain conditions, including concerns around national security, are met.

The address also seems to suggest that even when the suspension is lifted, Nigerians will only be allowed to use Twitter “for business and positive engagements.”

SERAP said: “The conditions imposed on Twitter while the ECOWAS case is pending constitute an interference with the right of SERAP and other plaintiffs to fairly and effectively pursue a judicial challenge to the decision by your government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria.”

The organization said: “The conditions make a mockery of the case pending before the ECOWAS court and create a risk that the course of justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced in this case. Protecting the right to a judicial recourse and due administration of justice is of utmost importance, being the cornerstone of an ordered society.

“Imposing impermissible conditions on Twitter would undermine the rights and interests of the Plaintiffs in the ECOWAS Court case filed against your government, as the conditions directly touch on the central issues of freedom of expression and access to information, which the court is set to determine and rule upon.

“Pushing conditions on Twitter while the ECOWAS case is pending would prejudice the interests of the Plaintiffs, undermine the ability of ECOWAS court to do justice in the case, damage public confidence in the court, and prejudice the outcome of the case.

“It is in the public interest to keep the streams of justice clear and pure and to maintain the authority of the ECOWAS court in the case. If not immediately withdrawn, the conditions would seriously undermine Nigeria’s international human rights obligations including under ECOWAS treaties and protocols, and have serious consequences for the public interest.

“Given that the only way in which SERAP and other plaintiffs can have fair and effective access to justice is to allow the court to decide on the merits of the case before it, fairness and justice must, on the facts of the ECOWAS case, outweigh any stated national security conditions.

“Your government should allow the ECOWAS Court to decide these issues, especially as the Federal Government has made the arguments on national security before the court.

“The core of the principle of judicial independence is the complete liberty of the judge to hear and decide the cases before them on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any improper interference, direct or indirect.

“The principle of the independence of the judiciary has also been enshrined in the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, endorsed by the General Assembly in 1985.

“The Principles provide, inter alia, that it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary (principle 1); that judges shall decide matters before them impartially without any restrictions or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason (principle 2); and that there shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process (principle 4).”

SERAP, therefore, urged President Buhari to urgently withdraw the conditions imposed on Twitter and to allow the ECOWAS court to decide on the suit brought by the organization and other plaintiffs challenging the legality of the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, as a judgment in the suit is fixed for January 20, 2022.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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EFCC Questions Ex-NDDC Boss Nsima Ekere Over N47bn Fraud

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Nsima Ekere

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Nsima Ekere, has been grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The former NDDC boss was at the Lagos office of the agency on Wednesday to honour an invitation to him to answer questions surrounding an alleged fraud to the tune of N47 billion.

In 2016, a year after losing the governorship primary election of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State to Governor Udom Emmanuel, he was appointed as the MD of the commission.

He left office in 2018 to concentrate on his ambition to rule his home state and contested the gubernatorial poll in 2019 under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and lost again to Mr Emmanuel.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019 and the report of the exercise, according to the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, said several frauds were uncovered.

The EFCC, reports said, has been trailing Mr Ekere and yesterday, he turned himself in and he was questioned on the allegations of contract inflation and award of fictitious contracts while in office.

This development is coming two days after the anti-money laundering organisation arrested the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, over allegations of diversion of N80 billion.

He was suspended yesterday by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainah Ahmed, to enable a transparent investigation into the matter.

Also, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs Patricia Etteh, was apprehended on Tuesday by the agency over allegations of diversion of funds for projects.

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IPMAN, EFCC Move Against Oil Theft, Vandalism in N’Delta

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IPMAN

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has sought the support and intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in curbing oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of IPMAN, Mr Bello Binna, during a visit to the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, in his office.

Mr Binna said that the EFCC was the only agency trusted to give solutions on issues of pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, IPMAN was more comfortable with what the EFCC is doing to curb

“We are here to collaborate with the Agency with which we are more comfortable, and we believe that with your support, our jobs will have a headway.

“In the past, our efforts have been wasted, we were advised that the agency that has the mandate to make our job effectively is the EFCC,” he said.

Responding, the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, said the EFCC was working tirelessly to put an end to the menace of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Nwokike also stressed the need to educate youths within the region on the ills of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.

“I assure you that the EFCC has the desire to reduce, if not bring to an end, the menace of illegal oil bunkering.

“We will educate our youths on the dangers of this, which is part of our mandate, educating our youths on why they must leave these illegalities. We must all come together to see how we can tackle this menace. I want to assure you that we will work together,” he said.

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Akinwumi Adesina Turns Down Requests to Become Next Nigerian President

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Akinwumi Adesina Sworn-In

By Adedapo Adesanya

The President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has ruled himself out of the 2023 presidential race in Nigeria.

Mr Adesina made his position known in a statement on Tuesday after months of calls for him to join the contest after a group bought the presidential nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him at the cost of N100 million.

In the statement, the banker emphasised that his current desire is to continue to hold the office of the president of the AfDB which he won reelection for last year.

However, he expressed appreciation for those who found him worthy of leading his country at this critical time it is undergoing different challenges ranging from economy, security and others.

“While I am deeply honoured, humbled and grateful for all the incredible goodwill, kindness, and confidence, my current responsibilities at this time do not allow me to accept to considered,” the statement read in part.

“I remain fully engaged and committed to the mission that Nigeria, Africa and all the non-African shareholders of the African Development Bank have given me for Africa’s development.

“I remain fully focused on the mission of supporting the accelerated development and economic integration of Africa,” Mr Adesina added.

Less than two weeks ago, a coalition of 28 groups purchased the N100 million APC presidential forms for the former Agriculture Minister.

The coalition consists of groups such as the Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora, One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups, farmers, and other civil society groups.

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