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5 NGOs, 4 Journalists Sue FG Over Twitter Ban

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Five non-governmental organizations and four journalists have filed a suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja asking it to declare the indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country a violation of their human rights under international law, order the Government to immediately rescind the suspension order, and compensate them for the violation of their rights.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the Communications Officer Media Rights Agenda, Lagos, Idowu Adewale and the Communications Officer IPC, Lagos, Olutoyin Ayoade and issued to newsmen.

The NGO applicants in the suit are Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), the International Press Centre (IPC), and Tap Initiative for Citizens Development (TICD) while the journalists are Mr. David Hundeyin, Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, Ms Blessing Oladunjoye, and Mr. Nwakamri Zakari Apollo.

The suit, lodged with number ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21 ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21, in a 73-page documentation, was filed on their behalf by Abuja-based human rights and free expression lawyer, Mrs. Mojirayo Ogunlana Nkanga, under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, and the Nigerian Constitution, among others.

They are claiming that Nigeria’s ongoing suspension of Twitter, which came into effect on or around June 4, 2021, violated their right to freedom of expression and interfered with the ability of the journalists to do their work.

The NGOs and journalists are also alleging that the general situation in Nigeria with respect to human rights, has created an environment where freedom of expression is stifled, which has contributed to creating a chilling effect on press and media freedom and which the ongoing suspension of Twitter is a continuation of.

According to them, Nigeria has consented to be bound by the obligation to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression under the ICCPR and the ACHPR and therefore, any limitation imposed by the government on the right to freedom of expression can only be justifiable where the restriction is provided by law, serves a legitimate aim, and is necessary and proportionate in a democratic society.

Contending that these three conditions must all be met before any restriction on the right to freedom of expression can be considered legitimate, they noted that the suspension of Twitter is not provided by law, that there is no justification for it under Nigeria’s domestic laws, and that it was done by the government in an arbitrary manner in circumstances where there was no public or judicial oversight, transparency or accountability.

The NGOs and journalists are asking the Court to declare the indefinite suspension of Twitter a continuous violation of their human rights under international law, particularly the right to seek and receive information as well as the right to express and disseminate opinions under Article 9(1) and (2) of the African Charter; Article 19(2) of the ICCPR and the rights of journalists under Article 66(2)(c) of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty.

They are also seeking a declaration that the Government’s directive, through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), for the deactivation of Twitter accounts in Nigeria violates their human rights under international law and that the threat by the Attorney-General of the Federation to criminally prosecute anybody found to be using Twitter in Nigeria following the suspension of the platform also violates their human rights under international law.

The NGOs and the journalists are therefore urging the court to issue orders mandating the Government to immediately take all necessary measures to rescind the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria; to take all necessary measures to guarantee non-recurrence in order to prevent the same violation occurring again in future; compelling the Government to issue adequate reparations, including restitution, compensation and measures of satisfaction to them to be specified and submitted to the court; as well as to issue an order of injunction restraining the Government, its servants and agents from imposing criminal sanctions on individuals, including the applicants, who use Twitter or any other social media service provider.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

The statement concluded that “The suit is being litigated with the support of Media Defence, a London-based NGO, which provides legal assistance to journalists, citizen journalists and independent media.”

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Government

Adamawa: Primary Sch Teachers, Health Workers, LG Staff To Enjoy National Minimum Wage

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By Muhammad B. Muhammad

It appears that the incessant calls by Primary School Teachers, Primary Health Care and Local Government Workers in Adamawa State on salary increment have come to an end as henceforth they will start enjoying the national minimum wage.

Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri revealed this while addressing Primary Health Care Workers who were on a one thousand man march solidarity visit in the Government House, Yola, Monday.

He said arrangements have been concluded for the payment, assuring them however that the government will also address the issues of their leave grant allowances and promotions.

The Governor further told the workers that the government is working on some structural reforms to enable primary Health Care Workers’ remuneration go intune with Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS).

The Executive Secretary Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Suleiman Saidu said the visit was to show solidarity for Governor Fintiri for his numerous achievements not only in the health sector but the entire state as a whole.

Speaking separately, Malam Yahaya Sa’idu, Lawan Abubakar Umar and Emanuel Cartwell commended Governor Fintiri for providing them motivation that enabled them to achieve excellence and vowed as grassroot workers to mobilize massive votes for his re-election.

The State Chairman of Medical Health Care Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Usman Babbada thanked Governor Fintiri for implementing promotion benefits at the hospital services management board up to 95%.

The one thousand man march solidarity to Governor Umaru Fintiri by the primary school health workers was commenced from Women Development Centre, Yola and terminated at Banquet Hall Government House, Yola.

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Government

Adamawa Govt Approves 16.6km Roads Network At 1,000 Housing Estate Malkohi

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By Muhammad B. Muhammad

Adamawa State Executive Council at its first 2023 meeting has approved 16.6km roads network at the 1,000 Housing Units Malkohi in Yola South Local Government Area at the cost N3.744b.

According to the resolution of the council meeting presided over by Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, the project was awarded to Messrs Jodas Salamu Global Nigeria Limited.

State Commissioner of Works and Energy, Alh Adamu Atiku Abubakar revealed this to newsmen after the council meeting that held in the Council Chambers, Government House, Yola Monday.

Abubakar added that the road network project which is to be completed in 12 months, is inline with the policies of the present administration to ensuring rural and urban renewal.

The Commissioner further said the Council after deliberations has approved construction and renovation of 12 lots of classroom blocks, laboratories and library in Government Secondary School Fufore.

He said the project awarded at N151m is being spread across 12 independent contractors adding that work will soon commence.

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Government

Gov Fintiri Mourns Apostle Hinjari, Calls For Arrest Of His Killers

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Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State has expressed sadness over the gruesome murder of Apostle Jerry Hinjari at his residence recently, describing it as a colossal loss. “I am heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss.”

Governor Fintiri in a statement by his Press Secretary, Mr Humwashi Wonosikou noted that , “Apostle Hinjari while on earth led a purposeful and impactful life. He was an ardent preacher of the word, a passionate soul winner, a transformational leader and a builder of men.”

Though young at heart, the Governor said “He stood tall and had never wavered in continuously delivering messages of hope, talking about boisterous relationship issues and good Christian conduct that found ready expression with the youths. Adamawa community has lost a true soldier in the army of Christ.’’

The Governor who described as wicked the act of his assailants assured that on no account will Government allow enemies of progress have their way and directed security agencies to rise to the occasion and unearthed the killers of the popular preacher.

“Going into elections, we as a Government will do everything humanly possible to ensure criminals have no hiding place. We have worked hard to restore the peace of the State and will not allow hoodlums turn the wheel of progress of Adamawa State.”

He stated that the Preacher will be remembered for his life-changing messages and that the church and indeed the Christian community is elated that he left a worthy legacy behind.

Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has also expressed sadness over the death of Abdullahi Duda a former Chairman of Madagali Local Government, describing as shocking the news of his passage.

“Honestly, I lack words; I got confused when I got the message and could not recover, but I had to sum up my courage and strength.”

Abdullahi Duda who was the Interim Chairman before the present leadership in Local Government Councils of the State died on Saturday at the age of 55.

“Abdullahi’s contribution to the development of the state will not be forgotten in a hurry. He was an astute politician who was very loyal. He continued to contribute his quota to the development of the state.”

“On behalf of the government and good people of Adamawa State, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and Madagali community on this great and irreparable loss. He surely paid his dues and the State and Madagali community will always remember him.”

“The State Government under my administration will continue to ensure that the ideals he propagated while alive will continue to be upheld and improved upon,” the Governor said.

The deceased who returned from treatment in India on Thursday died Saturday night.

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