SERAP Sues FG, States Over Alleged Attacks On Journalists, Bloggers

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal and state governments to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over alleged attacks on journalists and bloggers.

According to a statement issued on Sunday, the SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the group is suing the government for what it described as “the frequent and repressive application of the Cybercrime Act to harass, intimidate, arbitrarily arrest, detain, and unfairly prosecute anyone found publishing views or facts perceived to be critical of the government at the federal and state levels and government officials.”

In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/09/19 filed by its Solicitor Femi Falana last week at the ECOWAS Court, SERAP argued that: “The Federal Government and several state governments and their agents have trampled on the rights to freedom of expression and information of bloggers, journalists, activists, and social media users through the repressive use and implementation of the vaguely worded provisions of the Cybercrime Act.”

SERAP stressed that the idea of democracy is that the people are encouraged to express their criticisms of elected government officials, with the expectation that it will improve the process of government.

In cases of alleged defamation of government officials, the group believes sanctions should “not be so large as to exert a chilling effect on freedom of opinion, expression and media freedom; penal sanctions, in particular imprisonment, should never be applied”.

SERAP is, therefore, seeking the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that the actions of the defendants and its agents and several states of Nigeria in arbitrarily enforcing the provisions of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 particularly its section 24 to harass, intimidate, arrest, detain, prosecute and imprison journalists, bloggers, and social media users, violate the rights to freedom of expression, information, opinion and privacy and media freedom, guaranteed under Articles 6,8,9 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Articles 7,9,17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party

2. A declaration that the provisions of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention, etc) Act 2015 are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international human rights standards and infringe on the rights to the freedom of expression, information and opinion guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

3. A declaration that the continuing use and application by the Defendant and its agents and several states in Nigeria of the Cybercrime is illegal and unlawful, as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and information and media freedom

4. An order directing the defendant to immediately repeal and/or amend the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 in line with Nigerian obligations under international human rights law

5. An order directing the defendant and/or its agents and several states of Nigeria to provide effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant to human rights defenders, activists bloggers, journalists and other online and off-line media practitioners that have been harassed, intimidated, unlawfully arrested, detained, and unfairly prosecuted by the Defendant.

A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Jonathan Has No Vision for Nigeria – Lawyer

A lawyer and member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Ademola Sadiq on Friday said that President Goodluck Jonathan has no vision for Nigeria.

Mr Sadiq, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Surise Daily, said: “If you have a vision as a president, just as it is done in the Western world, before you get the stage of even being a party candidate for presidency, you must know your onion and the people too would know that you know your onion.”

“President Goodluck Jonathan, to be fair to him, I never saw him as somebody who has a vision for Nigeria,” he said.

Producers Of Campaign Posters Enjoy Jonathan’s Support – Activist

A lawyer and rights activist, Suraj Olanrewaju has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of supporting those who produced and pasted his campaign posters in some streets in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Olanrewaju said the president cannot convince Nigerians that he is not associated with the circulation of the campaign posters.

Campaign posters announcing President Jonathan’s readiness to contest the 2015 presidential election were on Wednesday pasted across major spots in Abuja.

The all-glossy posters which were strategically pasted in some areas of the Federal Capital Territory; FCT were posted courtesy of the South-South People’s Action Group.

The series of posters, which had President Jonathan dressed in his traditional Ijaw attire and the matching fedora’s hat had different inscriptions which read: “2015: no vacancy in Aso rock. Let’s do more“, “One good term deserves another. Support Dr. Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan for 2015 presidency.”

However, the presidency later on dissociated itself from the campaign posters saying that “those who are behind it are not acting as the president’s agents.”

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati in a statement, said the President is focused on delivering on his mandate for Nigerians and would not be distracted by the politics of 2015.

Reacting to this denial, Mr Olanrewaju said: “It is rather unfortunate again that we are having this from the SA on media to the president.

“We only pray that we will not end up also hearing later that the president would come and own that process and action like he has come to contradict some of those things that were denied by the SA in previous instances.”

Controversy Over Jonathan’s Campaign Posters Is Unnecessary – Sogolo

A Professor of Philosophy and a public affairs analyst, Godwin Sogolo on Friday said the controversies over President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign posters recently sited in Abuja is most unnecessary.

Campaign posters announcing President Jonathan’s readiness to contest the 2015 presidential election were on Wednesday pasted across major spots in Abuja.

The all-glossy posters which were strategically pasted in some areas of the Federal Capital Territory; FCT were posted courtesy of the South-South People’s Action Group.

The series of posters, which had President Jonathan dressed in his traditional Ijaw attire and the matching fedora’s hat had different inscriptions which read: “2015: no vacancy in Aso rock. Let’s do more“, “One good term deserves another. Support Dr. Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan for 2015 presidency”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Sogolo said the media is being distracted from the core issue of national development.

He said the spokesman to the president has come out to dissociate President Goodluck Jonathan from the campaign posters and “we should really accept the explanation given by him.”

“The whole controversy is most unnecessary,” he said.

Mr Sogolo said it was only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that has the right to decide the timing of electioneering campaign insisting that the commission alone can determine whether President Jonathan flouted any law with such posters.