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48 Hours After Court Nullified Ebonyi Cybercrimes Law, Pascal Etu Detained For Months Over Facebook Posts Still In Prison

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Over 24 hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, nullified the Ebonyi State Cybercrimes Law No 12 of 2021 and declared it unconstitutional, Mr. Pascal Etu who won the case against the state government is still held in prison custody.
 
Etu was arrested earlier this year for allegedly violating the state cybercrimes law and remanded in prison by the Ebonyi State High Court on criminal charges.


He was arrested for allegedly using fake accounts to be writing false information on social media. He has been in police detention for months for alleged violation of the Cybercrimes Law.

But while the State High Court did not grant him bail and the case was still on, Etu filed a civil suit against the state government at the Federal High Court in Abakaliki, challenging the constitutional consistency of the state cybercrimes law with the same law at the federal level.
 
In the suit with the number, FCAI/CS/6/2022, Mr. Etu’s Lawyer, Mike Odo, Esq prayed the court to nullify the State House of Assembly’s constitutional powers to make such laws and declare it unconstitutional, null and void for being inconsistent with the Federal Government Cybercrimes Act of 2015.
 
In his judgment on Tuesday, the presiding Judge, Justice Fatun Riman granted all the prayers of the plaintiff. However, at the time of filing this report, Etu was still in prison.
 
When contacted, the counsel for Etu, Mike Odo, told SaharaReporters that his client was still in prison because the case at the state high court was a criminal case, though it was the same law that gave rise to it.
 
“Pascal is still in prison. The criminal charge that is keeping him in prison is in another court, not the court that gave this judgment. The criminal matter is coming up on Friday.
 
“What we intend to do on Friday is to let the court know about this judgment of yesterday and make an application and see how the judge will respond to it,” Odo said.
 
The lawyer said he expects that when the judge of the State High Court is shown the Federal High Court judgment that has nullified the law, the judge would discharge Etu.
 
“He was charged to court under the cybercrimes law which is now nullified. Ordinarily, there is no basis why he should remain in prison,” he said.
 
Etu had sued Governor David Umahi over the controversial law enacted under controversial circumstances in September 2021.
 
No journalist was present when the law was enacted, except for members of the state House of Assembly.
 
There was also no proof that the law went through public hearing before it was passed.

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Saharareporters, New York

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