SERAP Seeks Probe of False Post on Information Ministry’s Twitter Handle

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed to probe false post on the Ministry’s official twitter handle of court proceedings in a suit against him and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

SERAP, in the suit is praying the court to declare arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional the N9million fines imposed on Channels TV, AIT and ARISE NEWS Channel over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests, and to stop the NBC from collecting the money.

According to SERAP, the Ministry of Information and Culture had after the court hearing last Friday posted on its Twitter handle a story falsely claiming that the suit had been dismissed.

But contrary to the report, the suit, which came up for hearing at the Federal High Court 10 in Abuja, was adjourned to Wednesday, March 10, 2021 for the hearing of SERAP’s originating summons and the preliminary objections filed by the NBC and its Director-General.

In a statement issued yesterday by SERAP’s deputy director, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “While there is a legitimate public interest in informing the public about court proceedings, any such reporting ought to accurately reflect the proceedings.

The organisation said it is “deeply disappointing that the ministry, which is yet to file any court process in response to the suit, posted and promoted on its Twitter handle a story claiming that the suit against it and the NBC had been struck out.”

SERAP said: “The posting on the Ministry’s Twitter handle threatens to impede or prejudice the outcome of this case.

“For the sake of a fair administration of justice, the rule of law, and consistency, we urge Mr. Lai Mohammed to promptly and thoroughly probe the false posting, and ensure that the story is immediately removed from the ministry’s Twitter handle and its other platforms.”

SERAP insisted that freedom of expression and media freedom are a prerequisite to any serious fight against corruption and impunity.

“We will continue to fight to protect these fundamental freedoms. Cases are won in court, and not on social media. “We will see the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed in court in March 2021, equipped with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international human rights law.”