Lawyer prays court to declare criminal defamation unconstitutional
Global Research Fellow of International Center for Not for profit Law (ICNL), Washington DC, Solomon Okedara has asked the Federal High Court, Lagos to declare Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, 2004 null and void.
Okedara, who filed the suit, stated that the section, which provides for the offence of criminal defamation, is unconstitutional.He stressed that criminal defamation creates an interference on freedom of expression, noting that the existence of this offence is not only cancerous to democracy but specifically discourages the publication or expression of the truth about the acts of governments, their officials and some other bigwigs in the society.
Okedara in his affidavit deposed that the existence of criminal defamation is antithetical to democratic ideals in any democratic society anywhere in the world.
According to him, that is why the United Kingdom, Ghana, Mexico, Jamaica, Norway, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, Antigua and Barbuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, New Zealand among others have abolished criminal defamation and several other countries are working hard to abolish same.
According to the applicant, unless the reliefs sought in the suit action are granted, his fundamental right to freedom of expression stands a risk of infringement and that of many other Nigerians would be perpetually infringed upon.
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