Court says Nigeria cannot prosecute over Twitter use

A West African court has said that Nigerian authorities could not prosecute people for using Twitter while it considered a suit seeking to overturn a ban on its use, a non-governmental group that initiated the legal action said.

The government on June 4 indefinitely suspended Twitter, two days after the social media platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists, which Twitter said violated its rules.

Soci-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian NGO, along with other groups, went to court to fight the ban, arguing that it was a violation of human rights.

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was restraining the Nigerian government from acting against citizens or media outlets over the use of Twitter, pending a substantive ruling on the core issue, according to a statement from SERAP.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach the ECOWAS court, and spokesmen for the Nigeria’s president were not immediately available for comment.

The Nigerian attorney general said on June 5 that those who defied the ban should be prosecuted, but did not provide any details as to which law would be invoked.

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