NEWS: Lawyer Sues FG, Asks Court To Declare S. 24 Of The Cybercrime Act Unsconstitutional

A legal practitioner, Mr. Solomon Okedara has asked the Federal High Court Holden at Lagos to declare S. 24 of the Cybercrime Act unconstitutional for violating the right to freedom of expression in the constitution.

According to Mr. Solomon: “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).”

Based on this, the legal practitioner based in Lagos has initiated an action against the Chief Law Officer of the Federation on the infringement of right to freedom of expression and fair hearing provided by section 24 of the Cybercrimes as against the provision of the 999 Constitution of the FRN (as amended). The suit was filed on the 14th Day of June, 2017 at the Federal High Court Lagos Judicial Division brought by way of an originating summons with the Suit No. FHC/L/CS/937/17.

In a 25 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Solomon Okedara Esq. and which was made available to THENIGERIALAWYER, it was stated that the 1999 Constitution as amended provides for right to freedom of expression of every person using any medium without interference. And that the Constitution covers the use of computer system or networks including social media networks and platforms in exercising the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

According to the Plaintiff in his statement, Section (36) (12) of the 1999 Constitution, has made it a mandatory requirement for definition of criminal offence by any statue making provision for criminal offence and that by virtue of this, Section 24(1) of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 which provides for criminal offences does not meet the mandatory requirement of definition as provided in the Constitution.

He also stated that Section 24(1) of the Cybercrime Act is vague ambiguous, and does not guide the citizen exercising his right to freedom of expression to know what is exactly lawful and what is not and it is capable of indicting a constitutionally protected speech or expression.

The plaintiff is seeking that the said provision of the Cybercrime Act, 2015, already infringes on the right to freedom of expression and right to fair hearing and that the Act is not protected by Section 45 of the1999 Constitution.

He also added “that such provision of the Act is inconsistent with Section 36(12) and 39 of the 1999 Constitution and urges the Court to declare Section 24 of Cybercrime Act, 2015, unconstitutional, null and void.

Based on this, the learned counsel in his originating summons therefore sought for the following reliefs to wit: (1) A DECLARATION that Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 is inconsistent with sections 36 (12) and Section 39 of the Constitution respectively (2) A DECLARATION that Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 is likely going to infringe upon the right to fair hearing and right to freedom of expression of the applicant as provided in sections 36 and 39 of the constitution (as amended) respectively. (3) A DECLARATION that in view of the inconsistency of Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act with Section 36 (12), Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution and the application of the provision of Section 1 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act is unconstitutional, null and void.

This may be the first action brought before the court challenging a provision of the Cybercrime Act which took many years on the floor of the National Assembly before made an Act of the same.

The Nigeria Lawyer
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