Twitter Ban: SERAP Loses To FG In Court
A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, dismissed a suit filed against the Federal Government for directing television and radio stations to delete their Twitter accounts.
In a judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, and awarded the sum of N100, 000 against the plaintiff.
The Incorporated Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had, in June, filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/496/21, against three defendants.
In the suit, SERAP had sued the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Director-General of NBC, and the Minister of Information and Culture as 1st to 3rd defendants, respectively.
The suit followed the order by NBC, asking all broadcast outfits to immediately suspend patronage of the social media giant after it was banned for violating Nigerian laws.
The group had sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government and the regulator from “censoring, regulating, licensing and controlling the social media operations and contents by broadcast stations and activities of social media service providers in Nigeria.”
It also sought an order setting aside the directive asking broadcast stations to stop using Twitter, as being “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 stated further that the court had 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.
It argued that the directive amounted 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, among others.
In their preliminary objections, the 1st and 2nd defendants, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
They argued that the directive did not in any way affect the plaintiff.
They further averred that the action was taken in the interest of the country’s national security, economy, and unity, adding that the suit was filed in bad faith.
The defendants told the court that apart from Twitter, there are other social media platforms through which the plaintiff could access information and interact like Facebook, etc.
Also in his argument, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, through his lawyer, Nelson Orji, said the Federal Government operates within the ambit of the law and would not do anything to undermine it.
He said that the operation of Twitter, an American microblogging and social media outfit, within the Nigerian cyberspace required it to operate within the confines of the laws.
He told the court that the company was not registered as a company in Nigeria as required by the law.
According to Orji, by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), foreign businesses wishing to carry on business in Nigeria are required to be registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission as a Nigerian company.
The lawyer argued that Twitter, as a company operating in the country, had not been paying taxes as required by the law.
He told the court that what the government had done was to suspend its operation of business activities pending its willingness to operate within the Nigerian laws.
Orji also stated that apart from Twitter, there are other microblogging social media outfits like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc, that are still operating within Nigeria which Nigerians are still using to disseminate information unhindered.
He added that Twitter was suspended because its activities became a threat to the country’s national security and the welfare of its people.
“The primary role of government as provided for by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is security and welfare of the people,” Orji had told the court.
He argued that the ban on Twitter for violating the law did not affect the rights of SERAP.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu held that the fundamental rights of the plaintiff had not been breached because the freedom of expression provided for under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not absolute.
He stated that the section is limited under Section 45(1) which deals with the issues of defense, public safety, public health, public morality, etc.
The judge held that the media houses, under which SERAP had filed the suit, did not complain about the ban, hence, the plaintiff cannot cry more than the bereaved.
He also agreed with the defendants that there are other microblogging platforms through which the plaintiff could express information like Facebook and others.
Egwuatu held that when national security is threatened, the issues of fundamental human rights take second stage.
He said besides, that Twitter was not a registered company in the country as required by the laws.
Egwuatu, who dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, awarded a cost of N100, 000 in favour of the defendants.
We’ll Expand Socio-Economic Opportunities For All Rivers People -Fubara ……As Wike Bows Out
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared his administration’s resolve to expand the existing socio-economic opportunities in order to engender prosperity for all Rivers people.
Fubara made this declaration on Monday at the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia, venue of his swearing-in as the sixth democratically elected governor of Rivers State.
Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, administered the oath of office on the new governor and his deputy, Prof. Ngozi Odu.
Thereafter, the former governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, handed over the flag of Rivers State and handover notes to his successor.
Fubara, in his inaugural address titled “Together, Let’s Consolidate the New Rivers State”, noted the poor state of the national economy, but promised that his administration would take measures to diversify Rivers economy and insulate it so that it can grow.
He also assured of promoting the climate of ease of doing business in the State to attract direct foreign investment capable of empowering Rivers people.
“The primary responsibility of a new government is to do its best to advance the security and well-being of the State and its citizens.
“Therefore, as we undertake our responsibilities, we promise to stay the course, commit to cooperative governance and expand opportunities for everyone. The wishes of our people for a happy life are our mission in politics.
“We will prioritise the well-being of the State and citizens with a renewed focus on economic growth, people-centred projects and social services”, he said.
He said further that, “We will improve the ease of doing business and sustain a congenial fiscal regime to attract local and foreign direct investments to stimulate greater economic activities, create wealth and improve citizens’ livelihoods.
“We will adopt a re-industrialization policy master plan and partner with the private sector to revive or establish viable industries to create jobs and empower our people.
“We will also support the growth of small businesses and encourage commercial agriculture to achieve food security, industrialization and improved living standards for citizens.”
Fubara added that his administration is already building on the successes of his predecessor and will construct more projects including the Port Harcourt ring road.
According to him, there shall be healthy partnership with private investors to provide integrated inter-modular public transportation system in the State.
“We witnessed unprecedented growth in infrastructure in the last eight years, but there’s still more to do.
“We will follow our leader’s footsteps to invest in capital projects, including roads, bridges, electricity supply to our rural areas, and social housing.
“We will, therefore, partner with the private sector to develop an integrated multimodal public transportation system to advance mass mobility and access to socio-economic opportunities across the state.
“We will also construct the Port Harcourt Ring Road to enhance the mobility of goods and services across the State”.
Fubara said the challenges in the health sector like inadequate manpower and corruption would be addressed to achieve optimal performance.
In the education sector, he promised to provide smart classrooms for students to prepare for global competition, empower the youths with skills to become economically active while being connected to small and medium scale business opportunities.
He said, “We care about our youth. We know they need jobs, opportunities, empowerment and the freedom to build sound, promising futures. We will not abandon our youth to their fate. We will continue prioritizing education at all levels and empower our youth with the relevant skills and opportunities to become economically active, productive and prosperous.
“We believe in the job creation capacity of small and medium enterprises. And so, we shall facilitate targeted access to low-interest funds for youth entrepreneurs to start or improve their businesses, earn decent incomes and generate employment for themselves and others.”
The governor particularly acknowledged the achievements of his predecessor in the health sector saying, “We are also proud of the state’s achievements in the healthcare sector, particularly the construction of new primary healthcare centres, the Mother and Child Hospital, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre and the contributory Healthcare Insurance Law.
“With what is on the ground, it is evident that the primary challenges with our healthcare system are more with inadequate manpower, corruption, indiscipline and ineffective management”.
Fubara gave a firm assurance by saying: “I assure you that apart from completing all ongoing healthcare infrastructure projects, we will deal with all identified challenges and ensure that the healthcare system functions optimally to deliver affordable and efficient healthcare to citizens.
“We are equally proud of the State’s unprecedented educational advancement, especially in the last four years. Our public schools at all levels, irrespective of location, are some of the lovely and best-resourced in the country.”
According to him, his administration will consolidate on the progress made so far by “introducing smart schools and classrooms across the State to empower our children with world-class learning experiences and make Rivers State a knowledge hub.”
Fubara vowed to be hard on crime and criminality in the State saying, “We will be hard on crime and criminality. We will swiftly and firmly deal with anyone, regardless of status or position, rich or poor, who breaks our laws or dares to violate our environment, peace and security”.
The governor thanked civil servants for their support and promised regular payment of salary, gratuity, more training, promotion for them and housing for low income earners.
Describing the civil servants as members of his constituency, he said, “To our civil servants, I thank all of you for your invaluable contributions to the state’s progress over the years.
“We appreciate your indispensability and promise to meet all our obligations to you, including regular payment of wages, pensions, gratuity, training and promotions. All we ask is your continued patriotism, dedication, and enthusiasm in the execution of your official duties”.
He further promised to govern Rivers people with the fear of God, cognizance of the fact that Rivers is a Christian state.
He also assured the church and spiritual leaders of his administration robust partnership to enhance the moral and spiritual wellbeing of Rivers people.
“Rivers State is a Christian State, and God is our foundation. We shall govern with the fear of God and stay strong to our Christian values of trust, faith, love, care and sacrifice.”
“We shall deepen the inseparable ties between the Church and the State government for the benefit of our people. We assure the Christian Association of Nigeria and other spiritual leaders of our sincere friendship, support and solidarity.
“We will continue to support and work with the Church to defend our faith, advance our values and enhance our people’s moral and spiritual well-being”, he assured.
At the Government House, Port Harcourt, the governor hung the official portraits of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his own and that of his predecessor, Wike.
… Appoints Nwaeke HoS, Ideozu Acountant General
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has approved two new strategic appointments in the state Civil Service.
In the latest development, the governor has approved the appointment of the most senior civil servant and permanent secretary, Dr. George Nwaeke as Head of Service, Rivers State.
He also approved the appointment of Dr Uche Ideozu as the new Accountant General of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications in Rivers State, Ibiwari Clapton-Ogolo, Esq, said that the appointments take immediate effect.
The two fresh appointments bring to six the number of appointments already made by the governor since assuming duties on Monday, May 29.
The first set of appointments was the nomination of four former commissioners under Governor Nyesom Wike as commissioner-designates.
The names are Prof Zaccheaus Adangor, Dr Dakorima George-Kelly, Isaac Kamalu, and Prof Prince Chinedu Mmom.
While Adangor was attorney general and commissioner for justice, George-Kelly was works commissioner, Kamalu was finance commissioner, and Mmom was education commissioner.
Fuel Scarcity: Tinubu Resumes Work, Meet With Emefiele, Kyari
President Bola Tinubu yesterday officially resumed work at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where he met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr. Mele Kyari.
This was the first official assignment by the President after his inauguration as the 16th President of the country at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Monday.
The President arrived at the forecourt of the State House at about 2:30 pm through the quarter guard gate, which is his official entrance gate and was received by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the outgoing Director of Protocol, DOP.
Others who received him were Emefiele, Kyari and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, among others.
The President went straight to his office with Emefiele, Kyari, Gbajabiamila, Faleke and others.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not made public, it may not be unconnected with the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant fuel scarcity.
It is expected that the issue of unification of foreign exchange, recent Naira redesign, among others will also be discussed.
Recall that President Tinubu had during his inaugural speech announced that the subsidy has been removed and this immediately made filling stations to shut down operations across the country.
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