Twitter: SERAP Sues FG Over Directive to Broadcasters
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the federal government and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, from using unlawful directive to prevent television and radio stations in the country from using their Twitter.
The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) had directed broadcast platforms to delete their Twitter accounts after the operations of the micro-blogging website were suspended for deleting a tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the suit filed by SERAP, it said the directive to broadcasters was as a pretext to harass, intimidate, suspend or impose criminal punishment on journalists and broadcast stations simply for using social media platforms.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/496/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the government of President Buhari, the NBC, and Mr Lai Muhammed and any other persons from censoring, regulating, licensing and controlling the social media operations and contents by broadcast stations, and activities of social media service providers in Nigeria.”
SERAP also wants “an order setting aside the directive by NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed asking broadcast stations to stop using Twitter, as it is unconstitutional, unlawful, inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and the country’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
SERAP is arguing that “The government of President Buhari, the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed have consistently made policies and given directives to crack down on media freedom, and the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and access to information, and to impose crippling fines and other sanctions on broadcast stations without any legal basis whatsoever.”
According to SERAP, “The court has an important role to play in the protection and preservation of the rule of law to ensure that persons and institutions operate within the defined ambit of constitutional and statutory limitations.”
SERAP is also arguing that “Where agencies of government are allowed to operate at large and at their whims and caprices in the guise of performing their statutory duties, the end result will be anarchy, licentiousness, authoritarianism and brigandage leading to the loss of the much cherished and constitutionally guaranteed freedom and liberty.”
According to SERAP: “By using the National Broadcasting Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to stop broadcast stations from using Twitter without recourse to the court, the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed have contravened the right to access to justice and fair hearing guaranteed under sections 6 & [b] and 36 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, and articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi, and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “The directive by the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed to broadcasters to delete their Twitter accounts is unlawful, as it amounts to a fundamental breach of the principle of legality, the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, and incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations.
“SERAP and concerned Nigerians are entitled to the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom subject only to lawful restrictions. SERAP and concerned Nigerians frequently rely on the Twitter handles of many broadcast stations as sources of information for our activities in the promotion of transparency and accountability in the country.
“Nigeria is a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which impose legal obligations on the government of President Buhari to ensure that the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom are respected, promoted, protected, fulfilled, and not unlawfully restricted.
“The NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed have not shown any law breached by journalists, broadcast stations and media houses in Nigeria, and the government of President Buhari cannot use any disagreement with Twitter as a ploy to violate Nigerians’ rights and undermine their individual businesses and professional duties.
“The drafters of the Nigerian Constitution well knew the danger inherent in special executive and legislative acts which take away the life, liberty, or property of particular named persons. They intended to safeguard the people of this country from punishment without trial by duly constituted courts. These principles are so fundamental and must be respected.
“The directive to broadcast stations has seriously undermined the ability of Nigerians and other people in the country to freely express themselves in a democracy and undermined the ability of journalists, media houses, broadcast stations, and other people to freely carry out their professional duties.
“The Twitter accounts by broadcast stations and media houses are their own properties acquired upon privity of terms and conditions formulated by the Twitter Inc. and accepted by the stations and media houses.”
SERAP is also asking the Federal High Court for the following reliefs:
1. A declaration that the directive by NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed to broadcast stations in Nigeria to deactivate their Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering is unlawful, and amounts to a breach of the principles of legality and no punishment without law, and violation of the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom guaranteed under sections 39 and 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 [as amended], Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
2. A declaration that the acts of the NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed in relying on the National Broadcasting Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to unilaterally direct broadcast stations to delete their Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter without recourse to the court amount to an infringement on sections 6 & [b], 36 and 44 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], Articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3. A declaration that the provision of section 2[r] of the National Broadcasting Act and sections 5.6.3, 5.11.3 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code being inconsistent and incompatible with sections 36, 39, and 22 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency and incompatibility.
4. A declaration that NBC and Mr Lai Muhammed lack the power and authority to unlawfully impose penalties such as fines and other sanctions on any journalists and broadcast stations for using Twitter, and refusing/failing to deactivate their Twitter handles.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
SERAP Takes Buhari, NBC to Court over Threats
By Adedapo Adesanya
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The organisation explained that the suit was for “the arbitrary use of the NBC Act and broadcasting code to sanction and threaten to revoke the licences of broadcast stations in the country and shut them down over their legitimate coverage of the 2023 general elections.”
Joined in the suit as the defendant is the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.
The NBC had last week reportedly sanctioned 25 broadcast stations and issued ‘final warnings’ to 16 others for allegedly violating provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code during the February 25, 2023, presidential and National Assembly elections.
But in the suit number FHC/L/CS/469/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether the broadcasting code used by the NBC to sanction some broadcast stations and threaten to shut down others was not in inconsistent and incompatible with freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.”
SERAP is asking the court for “a declaration that the sanctioning of some broadcast stations and threat by the NBC to revoke the licences and shut down other stations for their lawful coverage of the general elections is unconstitutional and unlawful, as it violates freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.”
SERAP is seeking “an order of interim injunction restraining President Buhari, NBC and Mr Mohammed from threatening and sanctioning broadcast stations in the country simply for carrying out their constitutional duties, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.
In the suit, SERAP argued that: “It is a travesty of justice to punish and threaten broadcast stations seeking to promote election integrity and citizens’ engagement and participation while allowing perpetrators of electoral violence and grave human rights violations escape accountability for their alleged crimes.”
According to SERAP, “Rather than promptly investigating allegations of election-related violence and other infractions of the Electoral Act and the Nigerian Constitution, and going after suspected perpetrators, the Nigerian government is scapegoating the media by targeting and punishing broadcast stations.”
SERAP noted that “the use of NBC Act and Code in this case would open the door to arbitrariness and fundamentally restrict freedom of expression that is an integral part of the public order protected by the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms Adelanke Aremo, and Ms Valentina Adegoke, pointed out that, “The sanction, ‘last warning’ and threat by the NBC would seem not to meet the strict requirements of the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations. In particular, it is unclear the scope or object of what these wordings seek to prohibit.”
“Under the constitutional and international requirement of legality, it is not enough that restrictions on freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom are formally stated in press releases and regulations.
“The requirement of legality also serves to define the scope of legal discretion conferred on implementing authorities in order to provide adequate protection against arbitrary implementation,” it added.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
NDLEA Seizes 1.2m Opioid Pills, Arrests Afro-Europe Cartel Suspects
By Adedapo Adesanya
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have seized no fewer than 1,205,260 pills of opioids in two interdiction operations in Kogi and Gombe states.
This is just as anti-narcotic officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos, disrupted the activities of a drug syndicate that operates between Nigeria, East Africa, and Europe, with the arrest of two members of the cartel.
Operatives at the Lagos airport had on Monday, March 13, intercepted a suspected member of the drug syndicate, Mr Ejezie Vitus Ifeanyi, during the screening of inward passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight from Malawi via Addis Ababa at the arrival hall.
When a search was conducted on him, it was discovered that one of his two bags had a false bottom concealment. During the preliminary interview of the suspect, he confessed that a member of the syndicate was waiting at the airport car park to pick him up. An immediate follow-up operation led to the arrest of Mr Chukwu Franco Bright, who was waiting in a grey colour Mercedes Benz C180 coupe, marked EKY 973 GQ, to receive the drug consignment.
After his arrest, a proper search of the bag was conducted before the two suspects leading to the recovery of 3.00 kilograms of heroin. Findings reveal that the drug syndicate networks between Nigeria, and Malawi, Mozambique in East Africa and Europe. While Chukwu who lives in Lagos, is responsible for the recruitment and coordination of the activities of mules on behalf of other members of the cartel based in Mozambique and Malawi, another set operates from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives at the SAHCO export shed of the MMIA on Wednesday, March 15, intercepted a jerrycan of palm oil going to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At the point of examination, it was discovered that 600 grams of cannabis sativa were concealed inside the jerrycan of palm oil. A suspect, Mr Tunde Ogunbowale, who presented the consignment for export to Dubai, was immediately arrested.
This is even as an attempt to export 2.7kg cannabis packaged as part of dried onions to Dubai through a postal service firm was frustrated by NDLEA officers attached to the courier company, who seized a carton filled with colourful sachets of dried onions used to conceal the illicit consignment.
In Kogi state, a total of 530,160 pills of tramadol and 99,000 tabs of diazepam were seized along the Okene-Abuja highway from a bus driver, Mr Suleiman Oyedokun, 41, coming from Onitsha, Anambra state and going to Kontagora in Niger State on Monday, March 13.
On the same day, 576, 100 pills of tramadol concealed in bags of rubber slippers were intercepted by NDLEA officers at a trailer garage, old mile 3 road area of Gombe metropolis, Akko LGA, Gombe State. Four suspects, Mr Usman Suleiman; Mr Ya’u Yusuf; Mr Saidu Suleiman, and Mr Abubakar Umar, have so far been arrested in connection with the seizure.
In Kaduna, 367 kilograms of cannabis Sativa was recovered from a vehicle with registration number FKJ141DX. Two suspects: Mr Monday Suleiman, 62, and Mr Sama’ila Mohammed, 30, were arrested while a bribe of N1.2 million offered to NDLEA officers was documented as part of exhibits to prosecute the suspects.
Operatives in Delta state also, on Wednesday, March 15, arrested a local female distiller of Cannabis Sativa and dry gin, Ebi Akpotudua, 52, for producing a cocktail drink popularly known as monkey tail. She was arrested at Ugboroke by river road, Warri, with 19.5 litres of monkey tail and 22.2kg of cannabis.
Mouka Advocates Healthy Sleep as Essential to Well-being
Mouka, the market leader in Nigeria’s Sleep industry, has joined the World Sleep Society and thousands of sleep health professionals and advocates raising awareness of the importance of good sleep for healthy living.
Celebrated annually on March 17, this year’s World Sleep Day with the theme “Sleep is Essential for Health”, is dedicated to spreading awareness about all aspects of sleep. According to the World Sleep Society, just like eating well and exercising, sleep is a behaviour that is foundational to one’s physical, mental, and social well-being.
Speaking on the theme, Mouka’s Managing Director, Mr Femi Fapohunda, stated that healthy sleep on quality products is very crucial for sound health. According to the MD, “sleeping on quality mattresses and pillows keeps the body properly aligned for a great night’s sleep and general well-being.”
Dr Remi Durojaiye of the Nigeria Society Of Physiotherapy (NSP), Lagos Chapter, also shared her thoughts on the 2023 World Sleep Day Theme. She said, “good sleep is required for optimal health. During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health”.
Mouka rolled out grassroots education centred around the theme to celebrate this year’s World Sleep Day. In partnership with the Nigeria Society Of Physiotherapy, Mouka is conducting physical sensitisation sessions in selected companies in Lagos. Mouka has also deployed radio communication and educational content in print and social media platforms for a wider reach.
Shedding more light on the World Sleep Day plans at Mouka, Damilola Taiwo, Media Manager, said, “Mouka is committed to investing behind the propagation of the importance of quality sleep in the physical and mental health of every Nigerian.
“We use all media platforms to reach our consumers to sensitise them. The Mouka brand truly cares and intends to add comfort to life through its high-quality brands and health education in partnership with medical professional bodies”.
Mouka is a member of the Dolidol International Group, the market leader in Africa with a head office in Morrocco. The company has a wide range of sleep products crafted to meet the needs of different segments of society. With the popular slogan, “there’s a Mouka for you”, Mouka products are manufactured with the unique age, lifestyle, budget and bodybuild in mind.
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