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ECOWAS Court orders Nigerian govt to repeal provision in cybercrime law

The ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Nigerian government to repeal or amend the provision of its cybercrimes law which violates citizens’ right of expression.

A civil society organisation, Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative, had in a suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/53/18 and filed by its counsel, Mr. Chukwudi Ajaegbo, on November 6, 2018, claimed that its members’ freedom of expression on the internet or in the use of computer devices was limited/breached by Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act enacted by the Nigerian government.

The section 24 of Cybercrime Act 2015 criminalises sending from computer, messages considered to be among others, “grossly offensive, pornographic or indecent, obscene or menacing in nature.”

In the suit, the CSO added that nine of its partners were arrested and detained in connection with the enforcement of the provision of Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act in violation of Articles 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and 39 of Nigeria’s Constitution.

A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Januaria Costa, according to a summary of the judgement released by the court’s media unit on Friday, ordered the Nigerian government to make the law to align with its obligation under Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The panel also held the Nigerian government liable for the violation of the freedom of expression with the enactment of section 24 of the Cybercrime Act.

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