A High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, has declared that the Ebonyi State Cybercrime (Prohibition) Law is valid and does not contradict any section of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
The Plaintiff, Mr Jude Igboke, through an originating summons dated February 14, 2022, and filed on February, 17, 2022, had asked the Court to determine whether Ebonyi State House of Assembly has the power to legislate on issues of security, which are in the exclusive list.
The plaintiff listed Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Attorney general and Commissioner for Justice of the State, and the Ebonyi State government as defendants in the suit.
He argued that matters on the exclusive list were meant to be legislated upon by the National Assembly and it’s unlawful for a State Assembly to legislate on such matters.
The plaintiff, therefore, urged the Court to declare that the Ebonyi State Cybercrime (Prohibition) law is unconstitutional and that the State House of Assembly had no powers to make such laws.
He, therefore, asked the court to give an order restraining the government from further implementation of the law.
But the Defendants’ Counsels in their written argument, averred that the Ebonyi State Cybercrime (Prohibition) Law, is not different from any other law in the State’s criminal law which was enacted to combat crimes.
They argued that the State Assembly had the power to make laws on matters in the residual list while the National Assembly is empowered to make laws on matters in the exclusive list, adding that cybercrime is not listed in the exclusive list, but clearly a residual matter.
They urged the Court to hold that the authorities relied upon by the Plaintiff did not support his case and should accordingly, dismiss the case for being vexatious.
The Presiding judge, Justice Vincent Nwanchor, in his ruling on Tuesday, agreed with the argument of the defendants’ Counsel and held that the Ebonyi State House of Assembly acted within its powers by enacting a law on cybercrime, and therefore, dismissed the case for lacking in merit.
Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Uchenna Umeh Igwe, told Journalists that his client, the PDP, ought to have been joined as an interested party in the matter.
Barrister Luke Nkwegu, another Counsel to the PDP, had told Justice Nwanchor, shortly after the ruling, that the matter which he delivered judgment on, was already pending at a Federal High Court, saying, the Plaintiff merely cloned the already pending matter and brought to him for adjudication, which according to him, constitutes an abuse of court process.
But Justice Nwanchor quickly said he was not aware of any other suit on the same subject matter pending in any other court.
On his part, the lead Counsel to the Defendants, Barrister Robert Ude, hailed the judgment; and noted that any party not satisfied with the judgment had the right to appeal.