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Udotai advocates ‘single law enforcement’ for cybercrimes in Nigeria

Udotai advocates ‘single law enforcement’ for cybercrimes in Nigeria
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Mr Basil Udotai, Managing Partner of Technology Advisor has told attendees at Technology Times Outlook in Lagos that Nigeria should establish a single law enforcement agency to effectively combat cybercrime.

Udotai, who delivered the thought leadership keynote presentation Friday at Technology Times Outlook Review of the Nigeria Cybercrimes Act 2015, agrees that the new legislation is a major step forward in the nation’s attempt to make cyberspace a safer place to live, work and play for the Internet community.

In his thought leadership keynote presentation, Udotai identifies that the existence of what he cites as “multi-institutional enforcement agency” as provided in the Nigeria Cybercrimes Act 2015, remains a major challenge if the nation has to win the war against cybercrimes.

“The Cybercrimes Act, though long in coming and beset with certain challenging components, may be applied to effectively tackle Nigeria’s cybercrime and cyber security challenges. But deliberate efforts have to be made by the key players; Office of National Security Adviser and the Office of Accountant General of the Federation working with stakeholders to make this a reality’’

Udotai, the Managing Partner, Technology Advisors LLP, a law firm specializing in ICT, was also pioneer Director and Head of the Directorate for Cybersecurity (DfC) at the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).

At Technology Times Outlook, Udotai also brought his deep knowledge to bear on the issues that have shaped Nigeria’s progress toward developing the broad set of laws seeking to address Internet and allied electronic offences.

Reviewing the Nigeria Cybercrime Acts 2015, at Technology Times Outlook, Udotai says the laws were in fulfillment of the yearnings for a legislation to enhance the administration of justice in the country.

But according to him, “decentralized and distributed enforcement framework are major challenges’’ of the new law noting that it is an error, which should be corrected.

The bill was signed into law on May 15, 2015 by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Udotai believes the enactment of this legislation is an attempt to bring Nigeria in tandem with global best practices and modern trends in the justice sector.

The objectives of this Act are to provide an effective and unified legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria by ensuring the protection of critical national information infrastructure and promoting cyber security and the protection of computer systems and networks’ electronic communications, data and computer programs’ intellectual property and privacy rights.

In a world today connected by global computer networks, the task of tackling cybercrime is enormous but it is a war no serious nation like Nigeria with a large economy must lose, Udotai says.

‘’The Cybercrimes Act, though long in coming and beset with certain challenging components, may be applied to effectively tackle Nigeria’s cybercrime and cyber security challenges. But deliberate efforts have to be made by the key players; Office of National Security Adviser and the Office of Accountant General of the Federation working with stakeholders to make this a reality’’, Udotai told attendees at Technology Times Outlook.

Although crimes such as stealing-by-trick have been accommodated in the Criminal Code, there is a need to develop a comprehensive internet legislation to regulate other cyber-related crimes, he says.

He also identified major motivational taxonomy other than financial cyber crimes which include political, emotional, ideological, among others.

The bill, which went through the rigorous process at the National Assembly before it was passed into an Act, listed the offences as unlawful access to computers, unlawful operation of cybercafés, system interference, intercepting electronic messages, emails, e-money transfer, tampering with critical infrastructure, computer-related forgery.

According to him, the underlisted formed key milestones in the journey towards the new law:

  • 2004/5 – Cybercrime Bill 2005 by the Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG)
  • 2006 – 2008 – Computer Security Bill;
  • 2009 – 2010 – More than 10 different bills (including the Electronic Fraud Protection Bill sponsored by Senator Ayo Arise of Ekiti)
  • 2011 – Harmonization of the various bills by the ONSA culminated in the Cyber security Bill 2011; and
  • 2012 – 2015 Attorney General initiated process resulted in the Cyber crimes Act 2015;

‘’ The Former Attorney General and the last National Assembly could have done a better job at this (Cybercrimes Act 2015)”, he adds.

“I was involved in the process up to 2011 and provided only non-binding and informal advice between 2014 – 15’’, he adds.

The Cybercrime Act is made up of: 59 Sections 8 Parts; and 2 Schedules. The 1st Schedule lists the Cyber crime Advisory Council; 2nd Schedule lists businesses to be levied for the purpose of the Cyber security Fund.

The cybercrime law stipulates different penalties for different cybercrimes. They include imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years without option of fine for a person who with intent, commits any offence against any critical national information infrastructure designated under section 3 of the Act.

The Technology Times Outlook Panelists included Sola Salako, President Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON); Alex Muoka, the immediate past Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch and Olufemi Awoyemi, CEO, Proshare Nigeria.

Others include Emmanuel Edet, Head Legal Services & Board Matter Unit, National Information Technology Development Agent (NITDA), a lawyer and member of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association of Nigeria (NiRA) and Tobe Okigbo, Chief Corporate Service Officer of Smile Communications Nigeria Limited.

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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