Human rights lawyer, Tope Akinyode, has commenced defence proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in a lawsuit instituted by a former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, seeking an order of court to ban the use of Twitter in Nigeria.
Announcing the development on Twitter, Akinyode said, “Having been consulted by friends and colleagues, I’ve filed court processes to challenge @adamugarba’s lawsuit against @jack and @Twitter. Jack’s support for Nigeria’s cause is commendable. We’ll protect our freedom of expression and resist the move to ban Twitter in Nigeria.”
The tweet was retweeted by about 12,000 Twitter users and has over 15,000 likes.
In the notice of joinder filed in the case, Adamu Garba v. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & nine others, Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1391/2020, Akinyode said he was an avid user of the online microblogging platform, Twitter, adding that it had been a significant avenue for him and other Nigerians to air their opinions and exercise their freedom of expression.
The lawyer said his tweets and that of many other Nigerians have formed a bedrock of public discourses, which have shaped and are still shaping government decisions.
On October 7, 2020, Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, had tweeted a picture of himself reading print-out tweets from Nigerians and wrote, “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.”
Akinyode said given the fact that the Vice President took time to read print-out tweets of Nigerians, his tweets and that of other Nigerians carried a lot of weight with the government and it is a priority activity for the government to read such from Nigerians.
The lawyer said he had proffered legal advice and received response from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission during the weekend, which would have been impossible except for Twitter usage.
Meanwhile, Garba reacted to Akinyode’s joinder of the lawsuit, saying he felt sad that the lawyer took up the case to defend Jack, who violated Nigeria’s sovereignty.
He said, “When a tweet from @TopeAkinyode came up, I worry at how much Nigerians take their country. To defend @Jack, who violated your sovereignty by calling for a donation to sustain a protest that lead to damages to our country after the President acceded to protesters’ request. Sad!”
Akinyode has stated that he was appearing in his personal capacity to defend the case just like any other Nigerian can do.
The lawsuit is yet to be assigned to a court or given a date for hearing.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have been reacting to the development on Twitter, condemning the former Presidential aspirant and hailing the human rights lawyer.