The Bird App (Twitter) Ban: Much Ado About The JUSUN Strike By Ebi Robert


Since the JUSUN strike, I have practically kept mum, and not openly aired my view about the justification or otherwise of it. This is because financial autonomy is indeed a thing of concern and any person concerned about the well-being of the judiciary should support anything that will give them the needed support to achieve it. While lawyers continue to feel the pain of days and weeks of stoppage to litigation, some continue to remain resolute believing that the strike is for the greater good.

However, events of the past days have left us with cases of breach of the rule of law. The president and those close to him have failed to understand the importance of the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizens and the need to protect and promote them. The government have over the years made utterances that prove that the president either do not understand the workings of the rule of law, or that, he does, but he has deliberately decided to violate the extant provisions of the Constitution. Before the whole legal community, the president was seen saying that National security takes preference over the rule of law; or put another way, the rule of law can be suspended for National security. This unguided utterance has been accompanied with other cases of irregularities, rigmaroles, analogies, and actions that contravene the principal dogmata that guide the rule of law and the Constitution of Nigeria.

As if the last straw has broken the Carmel’s back, the president ordered the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and went further to authorize Telecoms giants in Nigeria to block access to the social media platform. While this is yet to be addressed, our darling Attorney General of Nigeria, Malami, SAN, who should better understand the workings of the law, went ahead to authorize the prosecutions of Nigerians perceived to have violated the government’s order not to use Twitter. This is unconstitutional as it violates Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. But I won’t dwell so much on the unprofessionalism of the Minister of Justice or the unconstitutional approach of the president, my focus will rather be that: In the midst of all these, can the average Nigerian enforce his or her rights to seek redress while JUSUN remains on strike?

It is clear that Human Rights enforcement matters are not time bound, that is, they are not affected by the statute of limitation – it is also a fundamental principle of law that JUSTICE DELAYED is JUSTICE DENIED. People who may be arrested arbitrarily by the government for failing to obey the draconian Federal Government’s directive or order will find it difficult seeking redress to enforce such arrest because the court remains on strike.

For this purpose, it is only wise and necessary that JUSUN, taking into considerations all the happenings in the nation, call off this strike to enable citizens to seek redress in court when their rights are violated. JUSUN must understand that their strike at this point will only help the government to enforce their illegality still, against the common man. Right now, citizens, Telecoms giants, and other business entities are faced with a situation where their rights can be violated without instant remedies via means of injunction and so on. Therefore this is a call to JUSUN to suspend this strike at this critical point for the sake of the rule of law and respect for human rights enforcement.

Alternatively, JUSUN should pick a strategic period for their protest. (e.g., after the general election). During this period, government will be pushed to listen because pressure will be mounted on the ruling party and the political gladiators who are willing to challenge the outcome of the election in court and vice versa, that is to say, where the ruling party looses as well. JUSUN can also pick any other time, but definitely not now. It is much ado about the JUSUN strike and it is wise they stop it now. Ordinary Nigerians need the court now, and not the Government.

Ebi Robert

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