Fighting impunity: MFWA salutes court verdict declaring Nigeria Twitter ban unlawful

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) welcomes the ruling by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja on June 22, 2021, in which it “restrained 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 ruling followed a suit filed against the government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians arguing that “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter have escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of Nigerians and other people to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.”

SERAP is a non-profit, non-partisan, legal and advocacy organisation devoted to promoting transparency, accountability and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria. The plaintiffs had sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and proceeding with its threat to prosecute those who breach the ban, including media organisations.

On June 4, 2021, Nigeria’s information and culture minister, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the ban on Twitter in the country after the social media platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the company’s policies.

Nigerian Twitter users took to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the censorship. However, the country’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, ordered the “immediate prosecution” of those breaching the ban, and directed government agencies to cooperate with prosecutors “to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders.” The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also ordered TV and radio stations to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.”

“The court has listened very well to the objection by Nigeria. The court has this to say. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as inference with human rights, and that will violate human rights. Therefore, this court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also hereby orders that the application be heard expeditiously. The Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order,” the court explained.

It said the criminalisation of people using Twitter had escalated the repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom in the country.

The Court of Justice is composed of independent judges appointed by the authority of heads of state of government from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states.

The court issued the verdict after hearing arguments from Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, who is also a Board member of MFWA and Maimuna Shiru, counsel for the government.

“The intervention of the ECOWAS Court is a timely relief for millions of Nigerians using Twitter who have been threatened with prosecution under the provision of the Penal Code relating to sedition,” Falana said in reaction to the verdict.

The plaintiffs had averred that the suspension and threat of prosecution by the Federal Government is arbitrary and constitute a fundamental breach of the country’s international human rights obligations including under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. The substantive suit has been adjourned to 6th July 2021.

The MFWA is also glad to learn that four journalists and five non-governmental organisations in Nigeria have also filed a suit against the Federal Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja challenging the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria as a violation of their human rights under international law.

The suit, lodged with number ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21 ECW/CCJ/APP/29/21, was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Abuja-based human rights and free expression lawyer, Mrs Mojirayo Ogunlana Nkanga, under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, and the Nigerian Constitution, among others.

The plaintiffs claim that Nigeria’s ongoing Twitter ban violates their right to freedom of expression and interferes with the ability of the journalists to do their work.

The MFWA welcomes the verdict of the ECOWAS Court and commends the efforts of the media and civil society in Nigeria in challenging the repressive and retrogressive Twitter ban in that country. We urge the government to comply with the court’s ruling and restore the micro-blogging site to enable its citizens enjoy their constitutional right to access information and socialise online.

Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis’ statement upon arrival at the EU General Affairs Council meeting (Luxembourg, 22.06.2021)

“The main issue for us is the issue of Turkey. We welcome the fact that there is a de-escalation in Greek-Turkish relations, but we still ask Turkey to show in practice that it is in line with the European acquis and this remains a Greek but also a European demand”. This was the message sent by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, upon his arrival at the EU General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg, which will prepare for the European Council meeting of 24 and 25 June 2021. Mr. Varvitsiotis added that it is of particular importance that the European Union, which has always supported Greece’s legitimate requests, exerts pressure on Turkey to accept international law as a basis for resolving international disputes.

At the same time, the Alternate Minister stressed that the migration issue, which will be addressed by the Council, is an issue of national importance to Greece, for which “we need to find some middle ground so as to achieve a common migration policy that will both guarantee human rights and protect external borders, without turning the frontline states into countries where refugees and migrants will stay permanently”.

MFWA concerned about three-month imprisonment of journalist Diagne

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is very concerned about the June 17, 2021 sentencing of journalist Madiambal Diagne to three months in prison for defamation.

The Manager of Le Quotidien newspaper, Madiambal Diagne, was sentenced by a Dakar court following a suit by magistrate Souleymane Teliko, also President of the Union of magistrates of Senegal (UMS). The media manager was sentenced to six months in prison with three months suspended, and a fine of 500,000 CFA francs and 5 million CFA francs (US$9000) as damages to be paid to judge Teliko.

The case dates back to March 29, 2020, during an RFM radio broadcast hosted by journalist Babacar Fall. In his submission, Madiambal Diagne accused Judge Teliko of having unduly claimed travel expenses in connection with the trial of Hissène Habré. To defend his honor, the President of the Senegalese Magistrates Union dragged the journalist to court.

For his part, journalist Madiambal Diagne believes that “this decision is unjust” and that he intends to appeal, since he says: “it is a decision taken on the basis of extrajudicial considerations.” He told the press that he had produced “all the evidence supporting [his] assertions in court.”

The Francophone Press Union (UPF) of which Diagne is the President, in a press release, supported their colleague. “UPF supports its international President who has done nothing but freely exercised his profession as a journalist,” said the Union in the press release.

The UFP also indicated that the defendant provided proof of his claims during his trial. “Despite this, he has been handed this heavy sentence, which looks like a corporate decision, at first instance,” the group protested.

MFWA is concerned about Diagne’s conviction and welcomes the journalist’s decision to appeal the sentence. The trend across the free world is towards the decriminalisation of press offenses, particularly libel against public officials. Without wanting to comment on the merits of the case, we consider it backward that in a democratic country, a journalist has been subjected to criminal prosecution and custodial sentence for defamation in the line of duty.

We, therefore, call on the Senegalese authorities to act to ensure the release of Diagne and to begin the process of modifying the media legal framework in order to decriminalise press offenses.

Vytelle Releases Public Feed Efficiency Database

KANSAS CITY, Missouri, June 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Vytelle, with their network partners, announce the release of the Top 150 Proven Bulls. These high accuracy bulls have risen to the top of more than 81,000 animals of 25 different breeds and more than 262,000 residual feed intake (RFI) EPDs.

“There are two high-stake producer decisions that drive genetic progress in the global cattle industry: mating selection and reproduction method. By publicly sharing this list of feed efficient bulls, we’re able to assist cattle producers in identifying elite animals that drive a more accurate mating selection,” said Kerryann Kocher, Chief Executive Officer for Vytelle. “Producers can accelerate genetic progress to meet the global demand for high-quality and nutritious protein by utilizing the most modern hormone-free, in vitro fertilization to multiply offspring from their elite-performing animals.

The 2021 Top 150 Bulls list was compiled using data collected by Vytelle SENSE systems and Vytelle INSIGHT analytics services, formerly known as GrowSafe Systems. All tested animals include at least three generations of pedigrees and all animals must have at least a 0.6 accuracy rating on their RFI EPD to be eligible for the list. Each phenotyped animal strengthens the database providing producers insight to make profit-bearing decisions regarding selection for feed efficiency and performance. With the permission of each network member, Vytelle shares this information publicly to collectively advance feed efficiency improvements across the industry.

“Feed is 70 percent of a beef producer’s total production costs,” said Lisa Rumsfeld, Vice President of International Commercial Operation for Vytelle. “Whether breeders are looking to impact their direct feed cost, achieve marketing premiums or underpin methane emissions reduction claims with evidence-based metrics this database offers selection possibilities across breeds globally.”

Phenotypic data is captured through the use of Vytelle SENSE systems. The Feed Intake Nodes measure feed disappearance every second an animal is feeding, each time an animal feeds, to a 10-gram resolution. The In-Pen Weighing Position measures individual animal partial body weight and growth. It weighs every second an animal is standing at the water trough, which can equate up to 450 weights a day.

To find the full listing of the 2021 Top 150 Proven Bulls, visit https://vytelle.com/breeding-values/.

About Vytelle

Vytelle is a precision livestock company reshaping how cattle producers worldwide optimize their herds. Through Vytelle’s integrated technology platform, generations of genetic gains can be made in just a few years. This allows producers to sustainably deliver more protein with fewer inputs, helping to ensure meat and milk are viable, competitive food choices for future generations.

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Danielle Starr
Vytelle
danielle.starr@vytelle.com

Huobi Launches Bonus Point Campaign with $18,000 Prize Pool for P2P Advertisers

GIBRALTAR, June 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Huobi Global, one of the world’s leading digital asset exchanges, announced last week the launch of its bonus point campaign for users from India, Russia, and Nigeria. Aiming at improving the liquidity of its P2P Market, the launch of this campaign offers users multiple choices while endowing advertisers with more benefits.

“Professional players represented by large institutions and listed companies are continuing to enter the digital assets market in recent years. At the same time, there are still many people in the world who have not been able to enjoy the benefits brought about by the development of this industry. As the first link into the crypto space, peer-to-peer market plays a decisive role in connecting fiat and cryptocurrency,” stated Ciara Sun, Vice President of Huobi Global Markets.

In addition to sharing the prize pool, advertisers participating in the event could also upgrade to “Verified” advertisers with a “V” symbol next to their names. For each region, only 20 advertisers would be selected to join in the campaign. Satisfying different conditions such as posting time, payment method, order completion rate, and trading volume are methods for advertisers to be able to obtain corresponding points which could then be redeemed for rewards.

In most normal circumstances, gaining access to the points can be easy for participants. For instance, if an advertiser’s USDT selling price ranks TOP 10 on another platform, he/she will be able to obtain three points. If the advertiser posts two ads with at least one of them resulting in a sale of 500 USDT, he/she earns two points. Other conditions such as supporting local bank cards, having order completion rates greater than 85%, or exceeding 150-hour advertisement posting time will count as 1 point. Only 6 points, however, are required for a reward and the highest score of 10 points could be used to redeem 300 HUSD.

“We’ve been committed to providing institutional and retail users with a safe, stable, and user-friendly trading experience in a compliant manner. By offering users more choices in relation to pricing and advertising, we can greatly reduce their time and cost for trading. This will, in turn, help us establish a sound ecosystem,” added Ciara.

To participate in the campaign, users from India, Russia, and Nigeria are required to register through an exclusive link, complete advanced verification, and enable phone authentication.

About Huobi Group
Huobi Group is a world leading blockchain and cryptocurrency infrastructure provider with a financial product suite that includes the largest digital asset exchange by liquidity and real-trading volume. Trusted by users in over 170 countries, the Huobi platform is dedicated to improving financial freedom and inclusive access for all users. Huobi boasts an unmatched portfolio of crypto product offerings. This includes trading and financial products, cryptocurrency and blockchain financial infrastructure solutions, education, data and research, social welfare, investment, and incubation. We are always continuing to innovate on our future horizon.