Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 365 concerned Nigerians have filed an application before the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking the court to reject a suit by a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) to shut down Twitter, prevent it from operating within Nigerian cyberspace and ultimately restrict the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and media freedom in the country.
SERAP and the concerned Nigerians prayed the court for leave to be joined in the suit as parties, and to be heard as of right, as provided for under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
Following endorsement by Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Jack Dorsey of the #EndSARS campaign last month, former APC presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, filed a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1391/2020 seeking to compel the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stop the operation of Twitter International Company in Nigeria.
But in the application filed last Friday, SERAP and 365 concerned Nigerians stated: “This application is brought in the public interest. It is important to grant the reliefs being sought for the sake of justice and fundamental rights of people to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and media freedom, and as millions of Nigerians will be affected by any orders that the court may make in this suit.”
According to the suit, “the Nigerian government has legal obligations under sections 39 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution, and articles 9 and 11 of the African Chapter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of everyone to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association and media freedom.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application filed on behalf of SERAP by Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.
•South-East to compensate victims of protest, rebuild burnt police facilities
Meanwhile, South East states have promised to fund the compensation for those affected by the protest, rebuild police stations and their logistics, while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
This is as leaders in the region lauded the Federal Government on the mature and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
These were part of the resolution at the meeting held between leaders of the zone, which included governors, senators, House of Representative members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders with a presidential delegation in Enugu, on Saturday.
The communique read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, said: “We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
“We thank leaders of other zones for protecting our people and their businesses within their areas; We pledge to do same in the entire South-East.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the president to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them.”
The South East leaders also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilance groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us. We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – Nigeria; we are bigger and stronger.’’
The group also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
They thanked the Federal Government for the timely intervention in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum. However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. Other dignitaries in the delegation included Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu; Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr Uchenna Ogah, among others.
•Enugu panel engages religious leaders
The Administrative Panel of Inquiry constituted by Enugu government to look into the recent loss of lives, bodily injuries to private citizens and security personnel, resulting from the hijack by miscreants of the peaceful EndSARS protests has reminded the general public that the submission of letters of complaint and memoranda by victims was ongoing and would close on November 19.
The panel gave the reminder when its members led by the Chairman, Justice Fredrick Obieze (retd), paid advocacy visits to leaders of various religious groups in the state. The panel expressed intention of the state government to ensure victims were compensated appropriately as well as the need to engage them for adequate and timely information dissemination through all their places of worship to enable people access the panel for submissions.
•Ikpeazu advocates youths inclusion in governance
However, to avoid youths’ restiveness, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has called for the inclusion of youths and gender in governance.
He stated this at the meeting of South-East leaders with a presidential delegation.
In a series of tweets, the governor suggested that a gathering of youths from different critical groups of the society should be convoked to draft a framework for the country they desire. He also warned of a possible implosion if the tensions that have enveloped the country in recent times are not “carefully and professionally” handled.
Below are the tweets in part: “In my vote of thanks, we commended the responsiveness the Federal Government demonstrated in the strength and character of their delegation. I opined that the Federal Government must commission a deep study of the remote and immediate causes of tensions in our polity which they must view as a ticking time bomb that must be carefully and professionally detonated. Such a study will suggest tailored remedies and sustainable strategies to rebuild our nation psychologically, first, and to build mutual trust and loyalty to our dear country. To achieve this, I suggested the following steps:
“We must address youth and gender inclusion in governance through, among other strategies, appointments and compulsory local government elections across the nation. One can only imagine the impact 774 LG chairmen, 774 deputies, 774 leaders of council and thousands of councillors and their aides, all between ages of 18 and 35, will have on them, their pysche and the nation. They’ll surely learn the challenges of governance and learn the ropes too.
“We can even convoke a youth based team drawn from our states, CSO, media, unions and citizens within and outside our country to draft a framework for the Nigeria they desire!
“We also need to domesticate the various youth empowerment initiatives to engender deeper and cross sectional participation.
“We, the leaders, must as well refrain from intemperate utterances and commentary on sensitive issues.
“Finally, we must not continue the drain on the natural resources that buffer the bonds of nationhood. These steps among others, I believe will help address some of the issues agitating the minds of our youths.”
•Lagos orders release of 253 #EndSARS protesters
Lagos government has ordered the release of 253 persons arrested by police over their alleged roles in the unrest following the #EndSARS protests.
The state’s Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said his office had determined that there was a nondisclosure of a prima-facie case against the persons by the police.
The statement, signed by Mr Kayode Oyekanmi, Director of Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice said 92 persons would, however, be prosecuted.
He said the police had, between November 4 and 5, forwarded 40 case files to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in respect of the 361 persons arrested for alleged crimes that occurred in connection with the protests.
“Legal advice has been issued in respect of all 40 case files received. As at November 6, the directorate has been able to despatch legal advice in respect of 81 persons that are being charged to various courts.The others will be despatched to court on Monday November 9.
“Out of the 361 persons, the DPP shall be prosecuting 92 persons for different offences ranging from arson, stealing, breaking into buildings, armed robbery and murder. The office has advised that 253 persons be released forthwith for non-disclosure of a prima facie case. In the meantime, two case files in respect of 16 persons have been advised for further investigation by the police.”
•S’South chiefs in Lagos, task youths, others on peace, public properties
Leaders of the South-South people in Lagos have continued their visits to some government properties destroyed during the protest in the state.
Some of the areas visited included Ajeromi, Lagos Mainland, BRT Terminal Oyingbo and police stations.
Lagos Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Lucky Egube, who is of Niger Delta origin, led the team as leader of the region in the state.
The South South Forum’s chairman, Isaac Emiyede, who is recuperating from surgery and was recently attacked during the #EndSARS protest, sent a message of solidarity.
Egube had earlier led a team to TVC Communications that was also attacked by the arsonists and other miscreants.
At all the places visited, Egube and Emiyede urged the youths and other Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue in resolving issues.
They said that youths should not destroy public properties as leaders of tomorrow who will inherit these legacies that they helped to build.
Egube said youths should resist the temptation of being used by self-seeking politicians to destroy government and other public properties that they helped to build, including the edifices and laudable infrastructures being put in place by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“Since the return to civil rule, much has been achieved in Lagos under the administrations of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others and I enjoin everyone in the state to protect such public properties and support the current governor to achieve more,” Egube added.
Emiyede who also commiserated with Tinubu, the state government and others who lost properties and their loved ones, urged security agencies to diligently fish out arsonists and looters.