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Arrest of journalists for cyberstalking, insult, causing annoyance, offensive message, criminal intimidation, illegal – Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says it is illegal for the police to arrest, detain and prosecute Nigerian journalists for cyberstalking.

 

In a statement, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the ECOWAS Court had declared the Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act 2015 illegal. He, therefore, urged that all pending court cases filed under that section should be discontinued.

Falana said: “It has become illegal to arrest journalists for cyberstalking, insult, causing annoyance, offensive message and criminal intimidation.

“Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 had criminalised ‘cyberstalking’, ‘insult’, ‘causing annoyance’, ‘sending offensive messages’, and ‘criminal intimidation’ ‘insult’, ‘causing annoyance’, ‘sending offensive messages’, and ‘criminal intimidation’. Specifically, section 24 provided as follows: (a) Any person who, knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter using computer systems or network that (a) is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene, or menacing character or causes any such message or matter to be so sent; or (b) He knows to be false for causing annoyance, inconvenience danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another or causes such a message to be sent: commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7million or imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

“However, in the cases of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative (Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/53/18) and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (Suit Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative (Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/09/19), the Ecowas Court declared section 24 of the Cybercrime Act 2015 illegal and directed the federal government to amend the section to make the law conform with the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens to freedom of expression guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“In line with both judgments of the Ecowas Court, the Government of Nigeria has repealed section 24 by removing the provisions relating to ‘cyber stalking’, ‘insult’, ‘causing annoyance’, ‘sending offensive messages’, and ‘criminal intimidation’ from the Cybercrime Act 2015 and replaced same with Section 5 of the Cybercrime Amendment Act which provides as follows: Any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter using computer systems”.

 

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