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Cybercrime, Electronic Crimes Tough measures in Nigeria

Sept 22, 2008 - Cybercrime is heading for trouble in Nigeria. The government is proposing tough measures to deal with the scourge. Long jail time is being introduced for individuals that commit fraud and other forms of financial crimes through the use of mobile phones, computers, the internet and Automatic Teller Machines (ATM).  

 

According to news reports jail terms will range from five to 14 years for people found to be cybercriminals of this nature. The bill to deter criminal activity in the electronic world is being sponsored by Senator Ayo Arise (Ekiti North).

 

The title of the bill is "A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition of Electronic Fraud in all Electronic Transactions in Nigeria and for other Related Matters" and has reportedly gone through the first reading in the senate. Recommendations include a seven-year jail term for, and in the case of second conviction, a 14-year jail term for the offence of intercepting electronic messages, e-mails and electronic money transfers.

 

In this regard the Bill, states "Any person, who unlawfully destroys or aborts any electronic mails or processes through which money and or valuable information is being conveyed, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years and upon second conviction shall be liable to fourteen years imprisonment."

 

Also of interest is the stealing and forging of electronic cards - credit card, debit card, smart card, ATM card or any other related electronic payment system devices. Individuals caught in such acts will do time for a period of seven years.

 

E-banking and e-finance fraud is also addressed. A significant proportion of the electronic crimes are committed through e-banking and e-finance infrastructure. Part of the Bill states that: "Any person, who being employed by or under the authority of any Bank or other financial institutions (who) either directly or indirectly unlawfully diverts electronic mails, with the intent to commit or omit any act or order to benefit directly or indirectly, is liable to imprisonment for seven years or a fine of five million naira or both."

 

Although this might be difficult to prove spreading virus and infecting IT infrastructure with hostile and dangerous software programs is also a crime. A lot of people spread virus carelessly without knowing, but the bill is looking for those that are deliberate with sinister motives to with the intention "to damage or manipulate a computer record or obtain other records or date belonging to the Government, Educational, Research or any Financial Institution". This attracts  a 7-year jail term or a N5 million fine, according to the Bill.

 

Hoaxes especially those capable of threatening national security are also covered. The test would be to assess if the electronic hoax affects  the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government. Tough punishment for committing such an offence would be conviction to a 7-year imprisonment or N5 million fine or both. Recently  there was ajor e-mail hoax relating to Nigeria's President

 

e-pornography is another offence. For sending pornography through the internet to other computers the Bill recommends a jail term of 1 year or a fine of N250,000.  "Any person who, knowingly, sends pornographic images to another computer, by way of unsolicited distribution, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to 1 year imprisonment or a fine of 250,000.00 Naira or both."

 

The sanctions are tough and come in recognition of the negative impact cybercrime is having in society. Positive steps? Yes. But they must be practical and requires an understanding of the dynamics that make electronic fraud possible and attractive. To address crime you must tackle the cause of crime.

Cybercrime is real, sanctions, bills are part of building a culture but a holistic approach must be adopted. This is why initiatives such as the African Information Security Association (AISA) have been established to facilitate and promote information security.
 



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COMMENTS for "Cybercrime, Electronic Crimes Tough measures in Nigeria":

 

September 23, 2008

 

Ade Adedeji of Ilesha, Osun State, Nigeria says:

 

 

It remains to be seen how effective this will be. But it's all good especially as ATM fraud is rising. They should also deal with banks that are exploiting people through ATM failures.

 

 


MORE ...For more coverage and information related to this topic, visit these links:

Nigeria's ICT Policy Resources - ICT4D Nigeria

Digital Nigeria

IT and Telecom Bodies in Nigeria




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