Court Quashes Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law

Court Quashes Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital on Tuesday declared the controversial Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law 2021 unconstitutional, null, and void.

The Court ruling followed a suit by one Pascal Etu who sued Governor David Umahi over the controversial law.

Ebonyi State government September 2021 enacted the law under controversial circumstances. Apart from members of the House of Assembly, no journalist was present when the law was enacted.

There was also no proof of the law going through a public hearing before being passed.

It was also quickly and secretly accented to by Umahi almost immediately.

The public only became aware of the existence of the law when a social critic, Godfrey Chikwere was arrested by the Police for allegedly flouting some sections of the law in October 2021.

The Police were about to charge him in court when he suddenly slumped and was rushed to the hospital.

Etu was arrested for allegedly flouting the law just like the spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) in the State, Chika Nwoba.

Both were remanded in prison by the State Magistrate Court pending the determination of the allegations against them.

Nwoba was later granted bail by the court following the outcry and condemnations that greeted his arrest.

But Etu was not so lucky as he is still in custody to date with his matter suffering several adjournments.

While the case against Etu was on at the State High Court, he instituted the matter against the State Government and four others at the Federal High Court in Abakaliki challenging the constitutionality of the law.

In the suit FCAI/CS/6/2022, Etu, through his lawyers, prayed the court to declare Ebonyi Assembly has no powers to make such laws.

He also argued that the law is unconstitutional, null, and void as it runs contrary to the Cybercrimes Act passed by the National Assembly.

The respondents in the matter include the Ebonyi Governor, Ebonyi Assembly, and the Attorney General of the Ebonyi state as first, second, and third respondents respectively.

Others are Commissioner of Police Ebonyi State and Department of State Security Services as fourth and fifth defendants.

In his ruling, The Presiding Judge, Justice Fatun Riman granted all the prayers of the plaintiff.

The Judge while declaring the Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law 2021 unconstitutional, null, and void also issued an order of injunction restraining the Ebonyi State government from continuing to enforce the law.

Justice Riman further held that the Ebonyi State House of Assembly had no constitutional powers to make such laws because the National Assembly had enacted the Cybercrimes Act in 2015 which is applicable in all the states of the federation.

The court also held that by virtue of cybercrimes being an item in the exclusive legislative list only the National Assembly can enact laws on it.

The court also set aside all steps, actions, and proceedings howsoever taken by the Ebonyi State Government in furtherance of or in the implementation of the said Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law 2021.

Reacting, Etu’s lawyer, Mike Odo, said that the Court, through the judgment jas reaffirmed the constitutional right to a fair hearing and freedom of expression of every individual.

He noted that people have the right to say what they want to say and push information to the general public within the ambit of the law.

He expressed confidence that with the judgment the State High Court will free his client at the next adjourned date for the matter.