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#EndSARS: SERAP tackles Lai Mohammed over ‘false tweet’ on lawsuit

#EndSARS: SERAP tackles Lai Mohammed over ‘false tweet’ on lawsuit
December 03
22:16 2020

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Lai Mohammed, minister of information, to probe a “false” claim by the ministry over an ongoing lawsuit. 

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SERAP had, in October, gone to court to challenge fines imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Africa Independent Television (AIT), Channels TV and ARISE TV over the coverage of the #EndSARS protests.

In a statement signed on Thursday by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP deputy director, the ministry and Mohammed were accused of passing misleading information about the suit.

“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 [court 10] Abuja, was adjourned till Wednesday, 10 March, 2021 for the hearing of SERAP’s originating summons and the preliminary objections filed by the NBC and its Director-General,” the statement read.

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“While there is a legitimate public interest in informing the public about court proceedings, any such reporting ought to accurately reflect the proceedings. It’s 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.

“The posting on the ministry 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.

“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.”

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Meanwhile, the news report on the dismissal of the case, which the ministry also posted on its Twitter handle, appears to have been deleted.

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