ecowas court orders nigerian government to amend cybercrime law
Nigeria – The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Nigerian government to amend the cybercrime law for the betterment of the country. The court gave the decision on March 25, 2022 in Accra, Ghana.
The court asked the government of Nigeria to amend the controversial section 24 of its cybercrime law, which is being used against journalists and political activists instead of protecting citizens from cybercrime. The authorities of Nigeria reportedly used the law for muzzling citizens’ rights to freedom of expression.
The court said that Nigeria’s section 24 of cybercrime law is not in conformity with Articles 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Article 9 of ACHPR highlights the importance of Right to Receive Information and Free Expression. The ACHPR sets standards and establishes the groundwork for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
Reportedly, Keikura Bangura, the presiding judge, asked the government to amend the legal provision to ensure conformity with the country’s obligations under the ACHPR and ICCPR. The decision was delivered in a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). SERAP is the civil society organisation in Nigeria.
Reportedly, the organization challenged the legality and compatibility of Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act 2005 in relation to the guarantees of freedom of expression and information enshrined in Article 9 of the ACHPR in its suit. The organization alleged that Section 24 violated the rights to freedom of expression, information and other rights of human rights defenders and journalists. According to SERAP, the Nigerian government and its agents had used Section 24 provisions to harass, intimidate, and arbitrarily arrest human rights activists and journalists. SERAP listed 12 high profile cases of the alleged victims of harassment, arrest, unlawful detention, prosecution and imprisonment of journalists and human rights activists.