Nigeria: Media rights program sues Nigerian government official and state government official for internet shutdown ordered by Governor of Kaduna


Media Rights Program (ARM)

This statement was originally posted on mediarightsagenda.org on December 21, 2021.

A Federal High Court in Kaduna has set a hearing for January 18, 2022 in a lawsuit filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) against the Federation’s Attorney General and his counterpart in Kaduna state, challenging the shutdown of telecommunications services mobile in the state.

The hearing takes place before Judge Hadiza Rabiu Shagari.

In the complaint filed on its behalf by Kaduna-based lawyer and member of MRA’s lawyer network, Mr. Sani Abubakar Yahaya, as head of Ms. Chioma Nwaodike and Ms. Obioma Okonkwo, MRA asks the court to declare that the closure, blocking and / or disruption of mobile telecommunications services in Kaduna State at the request of the Governor constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression of persons inside and outside Kaduna , as guaranteed by article 39 of the Constitution of 1999, as amended; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

More specifically, MRA is asking the court for the following remedies:

A statement that the shutdown, blocking and / or disruption of telecommunications services in Kaduna State, including internet access, in accordance with the directives of the relevant federal government agencies and at the request of the government of the State interferes with MRA’s right to freedom of expression as well as the rights of its members and / or associates residing inside and outside Kaduna State, as this violates their human rights. receive and disseminate information and ideas by any means of their choice, as guaranteed and protected by article 39 of the Constitution; Article 9 of the African Charter; and article 19 of the ICCPR;

A statement that the shutting down, blocking and / or disruption of telecommunications services in Kaduna State, including internet access, constitutes interference with the right to freedom of expression of MRA, its members and / or associates residing inside and outside Kaduna State, as provided for by Principle 37 (1) and (2), as well as Principle 38 (1) and (2) of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa; and a violation of the statutory obligation imposed on the federal government of Nigeria by the African Charter and of Nigeria’s treaty obligation under the Charter.

A statement that the directive issued by government agencies to telecommunications service providers to shut down, block and / or disrupt telecommunications services in Kaduna State, including internet access, at the request of the government of Kaduna State is not within the permitted restrictions stipulated in article 45 of the 1999 Constitution and, therefore, does not meet the requirements of said article 45 of the Constitution;

An order directing the federal and Kaduna state governments to immediately restore telecommunications services, including internet access, in Kaduna state along with a perpetual injunction preventing them and their servants , agents or accomplices to shut down, block and / or further disrupt telecommunications services, including internet access, in Kaduna State.

The MRA argued in the lawsuit that in a press release issued on September 29, 2021, the governor of Kaduna state called on the federal government, through relevant agencies, to shut down mobile networks and services. telecommunications in parts of Kaduna State, such as Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi, Kajuru and Kawo, and that on September 30, 2021, mobile networks and telecommunications services were closed in the identified areas of the State following the directive issued to all telecommunications service providers by the competent federal government agencies.

The MRA claimed that all telecommunications service providers had complied with the directive from the relevant federal government agencies, and that residents of the affected area in Kaduna state were unable to use the devices. telecommunications since then due to the action.

He explained that since the advent of the Internet and digital technologies such as mobile phones, laptops, computers and other telecommunication gadgets, governments, businesses, government agencies and individuals in Nigeria and the all over the world use technology daily to express themselves. , communicate with friends and relatives, receive and transmit information and carry out their activities.

The MRA pointed out that the use of these technologies for the activities listed above requires the user to subscribe to the service of any telecommunications service provider. The MRA argued that the shutdown of telecommunications service in part of Kaduna State violates the rights of residents, its members and its right to receive and disseminate information, as well as access to Internet, as guaranteed by the Constitution and a number of international instruments. .


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