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Barr. Solomon Okedara 

Cybercrime Act 2015: Solomon Okedara V. Attorney General Of The Federation: FHC/L/CS/937/17

The last two years have
been marked with cases of arrests, detentions and prosecutions of Nigerians in
connection with speeches and expressions made on social media platforms ranging
from Facebook posts to Tweets and to blogs. Some of the persons arrested,
detained or being prosecuted have only acted within the purview of exercise of
their Freedom of Expression as guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution (as
amended).


Section 24 of the
Cybercrime Act, 2015 is the law under which Nigerians have been and are being
booked in this regard. The law, in very vague, overbroad and impermissible
terms restrict and criminalizes expressions and speeches made via computer
systems or networks including social media. Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act,
2015 provides that:

“Any
person who, knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means
of 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 the purpose of 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 N7,000, 000.00 or imprisonment
for a term of not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment”

Realizing that the
statutory provision is cancerous to Freedom of Expression and the need to
engender unbridled Freedom of Expression, the applicant –Nigerian Lawyer and
Global Research Fellow, International Center for Not for profit Law (ICNL),
Washington DC, recently instituted a legal action challenging the
constitutionality of Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 asking the
court to declare the section unconstitutional, null and void.


This is one suit that would
excite journalists, bloggers, lawyers, human rights activists, civil society
actors as its victory would mean victory not just for over 190 million
Nigerians but also for all lovers of democracy the world over.