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Buhari: signs the minimum wage bill into lawThe Centre for Advancement of Civil Liberties and Development, also known as Centre for Liberty (CFL) has urged the federal government of Nigeria to commence the process of expunging section 24 from the 2015 Cybercrimes Act and also withdrawing permanently the Social Media and Hate Speech Bills being considered as law in Nigeria, noting that these bills and section 24 of the cybercrimes Act are in violation of the right to freedom of expression.

CFL made the call while expressing delight over the recent judgement by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice which ruled through Honorable Justice Januaria T.S. Moreira Costa that the Nigerian Government must either repeal or amend its law on Cybercrimes to align with its obligation under Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In a statement jointly signed by Adebayo Raphael, Deji Adeyanju, and Ariyo-Dare Atoye who are all Co-Conveners of CFL and Maryam Ahmed who is the Asst. Project Officer, the group said since Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and since the 1999 constitution also recognises freedom of expression, that it therefore behoaves of the Nigeria government to adopt the ruling of the ECOWAS court.

CFL, in the statement, said it “is very pleased with the ruling of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice that the Nigerian Government must either repeal or amend its law on Cybercrimes, to align with its obligation under Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“While delivering this very laudable judgement, Honorable Justice Januaria T.S. Moreira Costa affirmed that Nigeria’s adoption of Section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) ACT 2015 is in violation of the right to freedom of expression. This is in line with a recent ruling of the same hallowed Court of Law that the September 2017 Internet Shutdown ordered by the Togolese government during protests is illegal and constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

“These rulings are in line with our firm belief that the Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill, and the Hate Speech Bill, formally christened An Act to Provide for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches and for Other Related Matters, are anti- democratic and constitute a threat to digital freedom and citizens’ right to freedom of expression.

“Considering the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and same has been domesticated in line with the provisions of section 12 of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, it is incumbent upon the Nigerian Government to respect the decision of the ECOWAS Court on Digital Freedom.

“It is our hope, now, that the Nigerian Government, particularly federal lawmakers will be inspired by these rulings of the ECOWAS Court and begin the process of excluding section 24 from the 2015 Cybercrimes Act and also the unfailing withdrawal and permanent interment of the Social Media Bill and Hate Speech Bill.”

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