A seven-year jail term awaits offenders of computer-related fraud and other cyber crimes following a new law passed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The bill, sponsored by Eddie Ifeanyichukwu Mbadiwe, was unanimously passed after a debate on the floor of the upper legislative chamber.
The seven-year jail term was contained in a bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition, Prevention, Detection, Response, Investigation and Prosecution of Cybercrimes and for Other Related Matters 2014.
The upper legislative chamber also approved the new law hoped to curb the online and related Internet crimes in Nigeria.
The bill provided that anyone found guilty of possessing a manipulative device, unauthorized Automated Teller Machine card, damaging a computer with the intention to defraud, trafficking in any password to defraud customers or financial institutions will be sentenced to seven years imprisonment or a N7 million fine.
It further stated that any person or organization who intentionally traffics in any password or similar information through a computer unlawfully with the intention to defraud public and private interests within or outside Nigeria would be liable upon conviction to a fine of N7 million or three years imprisonment.
The bill also provides for compulsory registration of all cybercafes as business concerns with Computer Professionals Registration Council and the Corporate Affairs Commission, while also specifying three years jail term or a fine of N1 million for anyone convicted for electronic fraud through a cyber cafe.
The bill also spelt out a three-year jail term or N2 million fine for anyone who knew that a crime had been committed in his premises or cybercafe and failed to report to relevant authorities within seven days.
Meanwhile, the law-making arm of government has said that the plenary session of the Senate on Thursday, 23 October witnessed the passage into law of “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition, Prevention, Detection, Response, Investigation and Prosecution of Cyber Crimes and for Other Related Matters, 2014”.
The passage of the bill was sequel to the presentation of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters’ Report on the Cyber Crime Bill referred to it for further legislative work by the Chamber a few weeks ago.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Umaru Dahiru, presented the report before the Senate for clause by clause consideration and passage.
According to Sen. Dahiru, the bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the implementation and evaluation of response and preventive measures in the fight against Cyber Crime as well as other related frauds in line with international best practices.
It also provides a legal framework for the prohibition and punishment of electronic fraud and cybercrime whilst promoting e-government services, electronic communications and transactions between public and private bodies as well as institutions and individuals.
The bill seeks to criminalize certain acts and omissions in line with regional and international best practices and provide procedural guidelines for the investigation of such offences.
The legislation also intends to define the liability of service providers and ensure that national interest of this country is not compromised by the use of electronic communications.
Sen. Dahiru noted that during the bill’s public hearing, stakeholders and the general public made some important contributions to the bill which specifically seeks to secure computer equipment against unauthorized access and modification, as well as against misuse in the following areas:
(1) Unauthorized access or modification of computer.
(2) Unauthorized access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences.
(3) Unauthorized access to computer or misuse of electronic devices.
On receipt of the report, the Senate resolved into the Committee of the Whole and considered and approved clauses 1 to 48 with the exception of clauses 7, 13, 14, 28 and 39 which were deleted and substituted.
Thereafter, the Chairman rendered progress report and the Senate Leader moved that the bill be read the third time and was seconded by the Senate Minority Leader.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the day’s sitting put the question on the bill and it sailed through third reading and passed.
Sen. Ekweremadu congratulated distinguished Senators for achieving a major landmark by passing this very important bill that not only seek to fight corruption to standstill but boost the image of the country within and outside it as well as reduce to the barest minimum the rate of cyber-crime in Nigeria.