The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal Government and state governments to ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over intimidation of those criticising them.
We understands that the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/09/19 filed last week at the ECOWAS Court, SERAP is arguing that:
“The Federal Government and several state governments and their agents have trampled on the rights to freedom of expression and information of bloggers, journalists, activists, and social media users through the repressive use and implementation of the vaguely worded provisions of the Cybercrime Act.”
It added that “The fundamental question for the court is whether the federal and state governments, by using and applying the Cybercrime Act and other similar laws on cyberstalking and sedition to prosecute journalists, bloggers and activists over perceived critical views, violate the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
“SERAP submits that, under international freedom of expression jurisprudence, the answer is YES.”
According to the suit, “The abusive and repressive use of the vaguely worded provisions of the Cybercrime Act to stifle and muzzle perceived critics, journalists, bloggers and other media practitioners is an affront and it is dangerous to the rule of law and protection of the human rights of people.”
“Stories published online have been deemed ‘offensive’, ‘obstructive’, ‘insulting’ or ‘annoying’ with actionable consequence under section 24 of the Act even when the stories are true, correct and factual.
“Some stories published through traditional media outlets (print and electronic) that were never sanctioned by the government have been sanctioned by the same government upon being republished through online platforms.”