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Nigeria is ordered to amend internet censorship law

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The court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered Nigeria to amend its cybercrime law. The non-governmental organization that filed the case, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), argued that the cybercrime law was being used to retaliate against journalists and dissidents.

The court ordered Nigeria to amend the law because it violated the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Nigeria is a signatory.

The country is supposed to amend section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition) Act, which criminalizes using the internet for “cyberbullying,” and spreading pornographic content and false information. The government has used the law to punish critics.

In 2017, a journalist was arrested for publishing a story about corruption in the Sterling Bank of Nigeria. In 2019, another was arrested for publishing a series of stories about financial accountability.

Nigeria could face economic sanctions if it does not comply with the order. However, ECOWAS court orders are hardly followed because member states refuse to impose sanctions on other members that refuse to obey court orders.

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