The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has issued an order restraining President Muhammadu Buhari or any member of his administration from prosecuting any Nigerian for using Twitter. The ruling followed the suit filed against the government by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians over the development. On 4 June, Information Minister Lai Mohammed announced the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country. According to the minister, the social media platform was engaging in activities that “undermine Nigeria’s existence”. Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami subsequently ordered the prosecution of anyone who violated the ban. In its ruling on Tuesday, the ECOWAS court granted an interim injunction “restraining the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and its agents from unlawfully imposing sanctions or doing anything whatsoever to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Twitter and/or any other social media service provider(s), media houses, radio and television broadcast stations, the Plaintiffs and other Nigerians who are Twitter users, pending the hearing and determination of this suit”.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Apo, Abuja, has sentenced a former federal lawmaker, Farouk Lawan, to seven years imprisonment for taking bribes while serving as the chairman of the defunct House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the fraud around fuel subsidy regime in 2012. Angela Otaluka, the trial judge, handed down the verdict in an hours-long verdict on Tuesday. She found the former legislator guilty of all three counts of bribery. The court has dismissed Mr Lawan’s preliminary objection against the trial that has spanned nine years. The former lawmaker is being prosecuted on charges of or receiving a bribe of $500,000 from Femi Otedola, a billionaire oil magnate. The money was part of the $3 million Mr Lawan requested to have the businessman’s firms removed from the list of companies indicted for fuel subsidy fraud. The judge declared in the course of reading the judgment that Mr Lawan’s conduct had elements of corruption. While evaluating evidence in her judgement on Tuesday, the trial judge, Ms Otaluka, noted that from the pool of evidence before the court, the prosecuting lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, had established a case of corrupt practices against the defendant in Count One of the charge that borders on corruptly requesting a bribe of three million dollars. “Count One of the charges is not based on suspicion but on credible evidence. The defendant (Mr Lawan) corruptly asked for $3million and received a $500,000 bribe in two tranches from Femi Otedola,” the judge said. The judge also dismissed Mr Lawan’s claim that he received the $500,000 to obtain proof of moves by Mr Otedola to induce him and members of his committee.
The Ondo High Court has granted bail to Kemisola Ogunniyi, an 18-year-old girl detained over the #EndSARS protests in the state. Ogunniyi, who has been in custody since October 2020, gave birth to a baby boy last Wednesday. Omolara Adejumo, the judge, granted Kemisola bail in the sum of ₦10 million and a surety in like sum on Tuesday. Ogunniyi was arrested with three others by security operatives during the #EndSARS protests last year. She and the other suspects were accused of being part of those who razed the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akure during the protest. They were charged with conspiracy to commit arson, riotous assembly, stealing, and malicious damage and were remanded in Surulere prison in Ondo West Local Government Area. The other suspects are Ojo Samuel, Ayodele Bukunmi, and Ani Obinna. In a letter to Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, Ondo chief judge, Tope Tomekun, her lawyer, had said Ogunniyi was innocent of the crime preferred against her. Tomekun said the teenager was on her way to the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) to collect money for her mother’s treatment when she was apprehended by the Nigerian Army at random and handed over to the police for investigation. “She was later alleged to be part of those who set the APC Secretariat, Akure, on fire during the EndSARS protest that took place in October 2020,” he had said. “I write to you sir, first as a lawyer and in furtherance of my conviction as a believer in the humanitarian cause of justice, to appeal to you sir, that for the sake of the sinless newborn baby and in the interest of justice, to give a directive that this matter is given an urgent hearing.”
Heavy fighting has broken out in several areas in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray between rebels and federal troops, reports say. The rebel Tigray Defence Force (TDF) said it had seized several towns, where witnesses told the BBC they have seen its fighters patrolling. The federal Ethiopian army dismissed the claim, saying it was fake news. This is the most serious fighting since November when the Ethiopian government declared victory in the conflict. Thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the war that started almost eight months ago. Following the fighting, some five million people in Tigray are in need of food aid and more than 350,000 are living in famine conditions, according to a recent UN-backed estimate. The reports of the fighting come as ballots are being counted from Monday’s general election. No voting took place in Tigray because of the security situation. Rebel spokesman Gebre GebreTsadiq said that the TDF had launched the attack last week targeting several towns. He said the fighters had destroyed military vehicles and captured some soldiers. Witnesses say rebel forces have entered the strategic town of Adigrat, which is just 45 km (30 miles) from the Eritrean border. If confirmed, this would be the most significant rebel advance since the war began. TDF fighters have also been seen in several towns both to the north and south of the region’s capital of Mekelle. Army spokesman Colonel Getnet confirmed there was fighting but denied that any towns, army equipment or soldiers had been captured. Ethiopia’s government, aided by troops from neighbouring Eritrea, launched an offensive in November last year to oust the region’s then ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). By the end of the month, it declared victory. The TPLF had had a massive fallout with Mr Abiy over his political reforms though its capture of federal military bases in Tigray was the catalyst for the invasion. The TPLF has since joined forces with other groups in Tigray to form the TDF.