NGOs, Journalists Challenge FG’s Twitter Ban At ECOWAS Court

Twitter is also having issues with the Nigerian government.


Five non-governmental organisations and four journalists have filed a suit against the Federal Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja.

In the suit filed on Monday, they asked the court to declare the indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria a violation of their human rights under international law.

They also want the court to order the government to immediately rescind the suspension order and compensate them for the violation of their rights.

The NGO applicants 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 David Hundeyin, Samuel Ogundipe, Blessing Oladunjoye, and Nwakamri 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, Mojirayo 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.

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

Similarly, they alleged that the general situation in Nigeria with respect to human rights has created an environment where freedom of expression was stifled, stressing that it has contributed to creating a chilling effect on press and media freedom.

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, the applicants noted that the suspension of Twitter was not provided by law, that there was 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.

They, therefore, asked 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 also sought a declaration that the government’s directive, through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), for the deactivation of Twitter accounts in Nigeria violated 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 violated their human rights under international law.

They urged the court to issue orders mandating the government to immediately take all necessary measures to rescind the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and to take all necessary measures to guarantee non-recurrence in order to prevent the same violation from occurring in the future.

They also want the court to compel 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.

137 NGOs From 31 Countries Ask UN For Myanmar Arms Embargo

People gather around an armoured vehicle maneuvering on a city street, following days of mass protests against the military coup, in Yangon on February 14, 2021.


Nearly 140 NGOs from 31 countries signed an open letter Wednesday calling for the United Nations Security Council to urgently impose an arms embargo on Myanmar after the military coup there earlier this month. 

“The United Nations Security Council should urgently impose a global arms embargo on  Myanmar in response to the military coup and to deter the junta from committing further abuses,” the letter said.

It went on to say, “Governments that permit arms transfers to Myanmar — including  China, India, Israel, North Korea, the Philippines, Russia, and Ukraine — should immediately stop the supply of any weapons, munitions, and related equipment.”

Three of the named countries are currently members of the Security Council: permanent members China and Russia — who both hold veto power in the body — and non-permanent member India.

“Given the mass atrocities against the Rohingya, decades of war crimes, and the overthrow of the elected government, the least the UN Security Council can do is impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Kenneth Roth wrote.

“The Security Council should also impose targeted sanctions, global travel bans, and asset freezes on the leadership of the junta and military-owned conglomerates,” said the signatories, which also included dozens of Asian NGOs.

China Claims NGOs Supported Hong Kong Unrest And ‘Should Be Punished’

China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang


China on Monday defended barring the head of Human Rights Watch from entering Hong Kong, saying non-governmental organisations were responsible for political unrest in the city and should “pay the proper price”.

Kenneth Roth was supposed to give a press conference in Hong Kong this week to unveil the New York-based rights group’s latest global survey, which accuses China of prosecuting “an intensive attack” on international human rights agencies.

The long-time executive director said Sunday that he was turned back by authorities at the city’s airport.

China last month announced sanctions on American NGOs, including HRW, in retaliation for the passage of a US bill backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

“Allowing or not allowing someone’s entry is China’s sovereign right,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

“Plenty of facts and evidence show that the relevant NGO has through various means supported anti-China radicals, encouraged them to engage in extremist, violent and criminal activity, and incited Hong Kong independence separatist activities,” Geng said.

“They bear major responsibility for the current chaos in Hong Kong. These organisations should be punished, and should pay the proper price.”

Hong Kong has been battered by nearly seven months of occasionally violent protests, its biggest political crisis in decades.

Millions have turned out on the streets of the semi-autonomous financial hub to demand greater democratic freedoms.

Not the first

Roth joins a growing list of openly critical academics, researchers, politicians and activists who have been refused entry in recent years.

Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was denied a visa renewal without reason in 2018 after he hosted a talk with the leader of a small and now banned independence party at the city’s press club.

Last September, an American academic was barred from entering after he testified in a Congressional hearing alongside prominent Hong Kong democracy activists.

“I had hoped to spotlight Beijing’s deepening assault on international efforts to uphold human rights,” Roth said. “The refusal to let me enter Hong Kong vividly illustrates the problem.”

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said that when Roth asked why he was prevented from entering Hong Kong, he was only told that it was “immigration reasons”.

“What we believe is that he was stopped because the Chinese government is afraid to have the world know what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong and the people of China,” Robertson told AFP in Bangkok.

The unrest that began last June is the biggest crisis the former British colony has faced since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Under the terms of the handover, Hong Kong enjoys unique freedoms unseen on the mainland, but in recent years fears have increased that these liberties are being chipped away as Beijing exerts more control over the territory.

China and the Hong Kong administration have refused to cede to the protesters’ demands, which include fully free elections in the city, an inquiry into alleged police misconduct, and amnesty for the nearly 6,500 people arrested during the movement — nearly a third of them under the age of 20.

Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which was to host Roths’ press conference on Wednesday, said in a statement it was concerned that the city’s government was using the immigration department to “act punitively against organisations and media representatives it does not agree with, which is a violation of the commitment to free expression and free speech in Hong Kong law.”



US, NGOs Call For Concerted Action On Marine Wildlife Conservation

File photo by: Pedro PARDO / AFP


Nigerians have been asked to treat the conservation of the oceans and aquatic wildlife as an individual responsibility, in order to preserve marine habitats for future generations.

The Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, Mr. Russell Brooks, made this appeal on Tuesday at the commemoration of 2019 World Wildlife Day, held at the U.S. Consulate General office in Lagos.

World Wildlife Day is observed annually on March 3, following a proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2013.

The programme, which was organised in collaboration with the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI) and Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative, was attended by leading environmental conservation activists.

Speaking on the theme of Life below Water, Mr Brooks stated that as much as 40% of the world’s oceans have been negatively affected by human activity, including over-exploitation of marine species, loss of coastal habitats and pollution.

“Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for over a thousand years, from providing food and nourishment, to providing material for handicrafts and construction. We cannot take their survival for granted.

“We can reduce some of the negative effects of our activity on life under the water, by working hard to spread the message to reduce marine pollution,” he said.

Earlier, the Communications Director at ICCDI, Mr Abiodun Adekoya, noted that effective climate change mitigation in the country would require concerted action by governments and individuals, with an emphasis on conservation education, recycling programmes and the creation of a legal framework for the nation’s policy on the environment.

Israel Names 20 Banned NGOs In Anti-Boycott Push

This file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending a cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 17, 2017.   ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP


Israel on Sunday named 20 foreign NGOs whose representatives are barred from its territory, saying that they support a boycott of the Jewish state over its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Publication of the list of groups from Europe, the United States, Chile and South Africa follows legislation in March banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country or its settlements, which are seen as illegal under international law.

Rights groups criticised the law as “thought control” and noted that Israel also controls who enters the Palestinian territories apart from one border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

“We have moved from defence to attack. The boycott organisations need to know that the state of Israel will act against them and will not allow them to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens,” Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wrote in a Hebrew-language statement.

Among the banned groups are the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want and the American Friends Service Committee — a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organisation.

South African, French, Italian and Chilean branches of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) also featured on the blacklist.

The statement from Erdan’s office said that the proscribed NGOs were “the main boycott organisations which operate consistently and continuously against the state of Israel, while putting pressure on organisations, institutions and countries to boycott Israel”.

It said that they employed “a false propaganda campaign aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy in the world”.

At a meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told her that the boycott movement did nothing for the cause of peace.

“I believe that BDS leads to increasing hatred,” his office quoted him as saying in English.

“It symbolises all that stands in the way of dialogue, debate, and progress,” he added.

The Palestine Group of Norway was among the groups named on Sunday.

In November, Israel denied entry to a US employee of Amnesty International as part of its anti-boycott offensive.

Amnesty and Israeli officials said at the time that Raed Jarrar, an advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the rights group, was prevented from entering the occupied West Bank.

Jarrar was turned back by Israeli authorities at the land crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

Amnesty did not appear on Sunday’s list.

Israeli authorities said Jarrar was barred at Erdan’s orders over unspecified links with BDS.

Israel sees the boycott movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim activists deny, saying they want only to see an end to Israel’s occupation.


Akwa Ibom Govt. Provides Free Anti Malaria Drugs To Hospitals

The Akwa Ibom State Government says it has provided free anti-malaria commodities in all public health facilities in the state, for the treatment of malaria among its citizens.

The state Health Commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, disclosed this on Tuesday in Uyo in a broadcast made to mark the 2017 World Malaria Day celebration.

The Commissioner said, “The State Government had saturated health facilities with drugs and facilities such as Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs), Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine (SPs), Microscopes and Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits.”

He announced that the State Government had established two sites for parasite and vector sentinel in Eket and Uyo Local Government Areas respectively.

The Commissioner added that government had also developed human capacity for efficient and effective service delivery.

” The State Government has strong collaboration with the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), the Roll-Back Malaria partners, Corporate organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).”

Reflecting on the slogan of the celebration, the Commissioner called for strong partnership and integrated efforts to ensure availability of malaria commodities to reduce the burden of malaria among citizens.

“The overall goal of this celebration is to energize our collective commitment to partner in the fight against malaria.

“The slogan also encourages the state, local governments and communities to play leadership role and take stock of achievements with a view to identifying gaps.”

He noted that malaria still remained a major public health concern in our society and must be tackled seriously.

“Everybody has a role to play in the fight against malaria, individuals, families and groups all have their distinctive roles to play. This role must include environmental management, health care seeking behaviour and drug adherence to prevent resistance as well as sleeping inside the long lasting insecticidal net every night,” the commissioner stated.

SERAP Calls On FG To Investigate Amnesty International Office Attack

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to urgently instruct appropriate authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate the attack on the Amnesty International office in Nigeria, and ensure the safety and security of its staff.

It would be recalled that a group of protesters on Monday, barricaded the Abuja office of Amnesty International and asked the international organisation to quit Nigeria within 24 hours.

In a statement signed on Tuesday, by SERAP Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the organization called on Buhari and Osinbajo to “Act swiftly to end the attack, intimidation, harassment and threats against Amnesty International Office in Nigeria and its staff.

“Any failure to hold to account those who may be responsible will invariably increase the vulnerability of civil society in the country, and strengthen the perception that attacks against the Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) and the human rights workers can happen with impunity.”

“If the Buhari government does not take all necessary measures to immediately end the mob attack on Amnesty International or any other civil society group for that matter, SERAP will be compelled to take appropriate legal action nationally and internationally including approaching the United Nation (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders for remedy.

“SERAP will continue to work to challenge any attempt to restrict, silence or eliminate the voices of credible civil society in the country.

“We urge the presidency to speak out strongly against intimidation and harassment of Amnesty International office in Nigeria and its staff.

“Investigating the attacks against naming and shaming the sponsors and bringing them to justice will send a powerful message of protection and support to civil society groups who stand up to speak truth to power.

“Any attack on Amnesty International office in Nigeria or harassment and intimidation of its staff members is an assault on the entire human rights community in the country.

“This government has an obligation to support and protect civil society groups and human rights defenders against violence and sponsored attacks.

“Nigeria is a democratic society and the government can’t just sit back and watch reprisals, threats and increasing hostility to Amnesty International in particular and the NGO community in general.

“Under the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and International Human Rights Law, everyone whose rights are violated are entitled to a right to an effective remedy.

“Exposing human rights violations and seeking redress for them is largely dependent on the degree of security enjoyed by civil society groups and human rights defenders.

“Protecting NGOs against sponsored attacks and ending impunity for such attacks is therefore a critical element in the promotion and protection of human rights in this country.

“While some may not like to hear these things Amnesty International has said, this in no way justifies this kind of mob attack on its office and staff members.

“The authorities should show its commitment in protecting the right to freedom of expression and guarantee conditions for civil society to flourish.”

NCFRMI Flags Off Humanitarian Support Programme For IDP’s

NCFRMI Flags Off Humanitarian Support Programme For IDP'sThe National Commission For Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), has flagged off a humanitarian support Programme to the IDP’s in Yobe state, north east Nigeria.

The Federal Commissioner for the NCFRMI, Mrs Sadiya Umar-Farouck, while flagging off the programme in Damaturu the state capital, said the first phase would include supply of both food and non-food items to the IDP’s in the affected area.

The commission according to her, would in the second phase take on durable solutions that would make the return of the IDP’s a memorable one.

“We are here to flag off the first phase humanitarian support program for the Internally Displaced Persons and subsequently we are going to focus on the durable solutions to those displaced persons, who are ready to go home because their communities have been declared safe by security agents.

“We are going to do that with your support and partnership, considering the fact that you have done so much to bring succor to these our brothers and sisters and we commend you very much for the good work you are doing to ensure normalcy returns to our trouble areas.

“We look forward to a very fruitful working relationship” the commissioner told the state government.

The state Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, represented by his Deputy and chairman of the rehabilitation, reconstruction and relocation of IDPs in the state, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, called for more assistance to the remaining IDP’s still taking refuge at the Pompomari camp in Damaturu the state capital.

NCFRMI Flags Off Humanitarian Support Programme For IDP's

He revealed that at the moment, 2,500 IDP’s are taking refuge at the Damaturu official camp, as many more have returned to their ancestral homes, sequel to the return of peace in some affected areas.

According to him, the need for more assistance to the IDP’s has become necessary as all those at the camp as well as returnees, have not engaged themselves in meaningful means of livelihood for several years.

Mr Aliyu, however said that the Yobe state Government had carried out lots of reconstruction and rehabilitation works to improve the lives of the IDP’s.

He expressed appreciation to some
philanthropists, NGO’s and other spirited individuals for the untiring support to the displaced.

“While expressing our appreciation for the support received from the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, the flagging off of the distribution of the relief materials to the IDP’s by the commission should therefore be viewed as part of another giant stride in our multi-dimensional approach to providing succor to the teaming IDP’s.

“I wish to inform the federal commissioner that though various forms of assistance was received in favour of the IDPs in the state, considering the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis which is the second most hit after Borno state, we still need intervention in the form of additional food and essential non-food items, provision of building materials and cash support, to enable our traumatized people reconstruct and rehabilitate their house.

“The state government will also require support in the great and monumental task of reconstructing the destroyed public and private structures” the governor said.

NEMA Promises Improved Feeding Of Bama IDPs

NEMA, IDPs, BamaThe National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) says the poor nutrition state of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bama will soon improve.

The Northeast Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr Mohammed Kannar, said this on Thursday when he confirmed the reports on starving refugees to Channels Television.

Speaking on Thursday during a phone interview, Mr Kannar said the agency was working with other aid agencies to ensure the victims were effectively taken care of.

“We’ve made a joint collaboration with all other NGOs which we brought down under the leadership of the Ministry of Health of Borno State,” he said.

The NEMA official revealed that 1,800 malnourished IDPs were relocated from Bama to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital in northeast Nigeria.

He noted that the Dangote Foundation has donated lots of materials to the Boko Haram insurgency victims, where 28 trucks of food materials have been sent to Bama.

With the new development, he promised that the poor state of the insurgent victims would improve in a short time.

The internationally renowned charity group, doctors without borders, MSF had reported that about 200 refugees fleeing the Boko Haram militants have starved to death over the past month in Bama.

The MSF says that a catastrophic humanitarian emergency is unfolding at a camp it visited where 24,000 people have taken refuge.

UK Donates £6.7m To Support Boko Haram Victims

Boko HaramThe British government has donated the sum of 6.7 million Pounds in support of humanitarian assistance for the 2.2 million victims that were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria.

The donation is coming on the heels of the visit of the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Anelay, who arrived Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Press and Public Affairs Officer of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Joseph Abuku, said in a statement that the Minister would hold high level discussions with government officials on how to ensure the protection of civilians in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.

He added that Anelay, who is also the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI), would meet with various civil society activists and NGOs to discuss the importance of preventing sexual violence in such conflicts.

According to Abuku, “The Minister will discuss additional humanitarian support that the UK is providing in helping those affected by the fight against Boko Haram.

“This includes £6.7 million to enable the government of Nigeria, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), UN agencies and the Red Cross to deliver food assistance, education, sanitation and safe water, shelter material (as well as) other basic necessities.”

The Commission’s spokesman added that “The Minister will meet with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign and reiterate the importance of preventing gender based violence in conflict.

“She will also visit UK sponsored projects that work to reduce intra-community conflict and violence against women and girls, promote community-government security dialogue and improve access to schooling.”

He said that an estimated 2.2 million people have been displaced and over 14.8 million others were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Mr Abuku disclosed that the UK government is providing £6.7 million of humanitarian support to help those affected by Boko Haram, while 60% of DfID’s £222 million development budget for Nigeria would be spent in the northern region.

17 Political Parties In Kogi State Sign Peace Accord

kogi state17 political parties have signed peace accord in Kogi State ahead of the forth coming general elections across the nation and in the bid to ensure violence free and credible election in the State.

The peace pact which, was organized by the State chapter of the Inter Party Accord Committee (IPAC), in collaboration with the Kogi State Police Command was to ensure a hitch free elections in Kogi State.

The State Chairman of the Inter Security Agencies and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi explained the essence of the gathering, as he warned those planning to subvert the electoral process in the State to favour them to desist from it in there own interest.

Speaking also at the occasion was the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kogi State, Hussain Halilu Pai, who assured the political parties that the electoral umpire was ready to conduct a credible election.

According to him, the introduction of Smart Card Readers (SCR) and Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) is an improvement on the 2011 election.

The Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory, Hon. Ibrahim Itodo also admonished political parties representatives.

Jonathan begins assessment of flood ravaged areas, urge victims not to commit suicide

President Goodluck Jonathan has urged victims of the flood disaster in Kogi state not worry or commit suicide over the loss of property, as they have a responsible government that cares for the people.

Aerial view of flooded area in Kogi state

Jonathan who made this call while speaking at St Luke Primary Schools, one of the several relief camps in the State, appealed to owners of property destroyed by the flood not to bother themselves as the government will cushion the effects of the flood in all the affected states.

The president, who was earlier on spot assessment of Ibaji and Idah Local government areas which were completely submerged by water, stated that federal government is planning to build more dams as measure to control future occurrence.

He described the ravaging flood as a natural disaster, stressing that the magnitude this year’s flood was last witnessed in 1969.

The president also explained that part of Federal Government efforts to cushion the devastating effects in all the affected states of the Federation, is the inauguration of a high power committee headed by the President of Dangote groups, Alhaji Aliko, to raise funds which will mitigate against the effects of the of the flood.

President Jonathan landed at the Maigumeri Barracks in an Hellicopter at about 11AM, accompanied by the Minister of Environment and the Director-General of the National Emergency Agency (NEMA).

Arriving Lokoja, the state capital, the president and the state governor, Captain Idris Wada in his address, told the president that he has approached the Ministers of Works, Mines and Power to release some of the housing estate that belong to the federal government and the abandoned houses in Ajaokuta for the relocation of the affected people.

President Jonathan with a day-old baby born in the Kogi flood relief camp

President Goodluck Jonathan before giving his speech, demanded to see some of the 23 babies born that were delivered in the relief camp. He also gave an opportunity to the leader of the relief camp to address him.

While thanking the victims for their patience with the government, he pointed out that he was in the state to commiserate with them and the state government over the devastating effects of the flood in the nine affected local governments areas.

According to the President, the flood was linked up to global warming.

He commended the state governor for his efforts to provide the alternative relief camps and materials for the affected.

The president also lauded all other emergency agencies such as NEMA, SEMA, Red Cross, NGOs and all the development partners who have assisted in managing the disaster.