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Court Sentences TikTok User To Three Years Jail For Defaming Nollywood Actress

A Federal High Court in Lagos State has convicted and sentenced Nwakaego Okoye, a TikTok user, to three years in prison for defaming Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus. 

The sentencing came after Okoye pleaded guilty to the charge brought against her, admitting her involvement in defaming the prominent actress.

During the court proceedings on Wednesday, Okoye revealed that her actions were motivated by a promise of N200,000 made by her friend, 

Fortune Ibe. She confessed to knowingly spreading false information about Eniola Badmus, tarnishing her reputation on social media. 

However, Okoye expressed remorse for her actions, which seemed to have weighed in her favor during the sentencing.

Presiding over the case, Justice Oweibo granted Okoye the option to pay a fine of N150,000 in lieu of serving the full jail term, considering her contrition.

 The Judge highlighted that Okoye’s actions violated Sections 24(1)(b)(2)(a)(c) and 27 of the Cybercrimes Act, 2015. Notably, Okoye’s accomplice, Chimabia, who is currently at large, was also jointly charged for the offense.

This sentencing reverberates against the backdrop of recent legal developments regarding Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act. In 2023, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) reported that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court had declared Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act as vague, arbitrary, and unlawful. 

SERAP emphasized that the ECOWAS Court’s ruling invalidated Section 24, casting doubt on the legality of charging individuals with cyberstalking under its provisions.

While Okoye’s case predates this ruling, it raises questions about the enforcement and interpretation of cybercrime laws in Nigeria. 

With evolving digital landscapes, the judiciary faces the challenge of balancing freedom of expression with protecting individuals’ reputations from online defamation.

Eniola Badmus, a victim in this case, has yet to comment on the verdict. 

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