ECOWAS Court Finds Nigeria in Violation of Freedom of Expression, Orders Government to Repeal or Amend  Cybercrime Act

Justices of ECOWAS Court
Justices of ECOWAS Court

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)Court of Justice has ordered Nigeria to repeal or amend section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act which it held to be in gross violation of the right to freedom of expression.

While giving the decision, the court had held the Nigerian Government liable for violating the right to freedom of expression by adopting Section 24 of its 2015 Cybercrime Act.

In addition, the court dismissed for lack of evidence other claims made by the plaintiff in relation to the contention that the law violated its members’ right to freedom of expression.

The plaintiff had claimed among others that their members’ freedom of expression on the internet or in the use of computer devices was limited/breached by Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act of the defendant state.

It also claimed that nine of its collaborators 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 Section 39 of Nigeria’s constitution.

The plaintiff argued that “Section 24 of the Act contained vague concepts that allowed for arbitrary interpretation and application, and that the restrictions it imposes were notreasonably justifiable as they did not pursue legitimate objectives, necessary nor proportional.”