The House of Representatives has proposed heavy penalties for “Computer misuse and Cybercrimes,” with fines ranging from N5m to N25m for offenders. Convicted persons will also serve jail terms ranging from two to 15 years.
Cybercrime is commonly known as Yahoo Yahoo in Nigeria.
The penalties are contained in amendments proposed to the Criminal Code and the Penal Code. The two bills have already passed second reading at the House and are scheduled for public hearing by the House Committee on Justice headed by Mr. Ali Ahmad.
For the Criminal Code, the amendment seeks to insert a new Chapter 56, dedicated to “Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Offences.”
Section 3 (1) provides that it is an offence to gain access to a computer system or network without authorisation. Offenders are “liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N10m or imprisonment for a term of five years or both.”
The fine can be up to N20m or 10-year imprisonment or both if the offence is “committed with the intent of obtaining computer data, securing access to any program, commercial or industrial secrets or confidential information.”
The section gives further explanations, “Any person, who commits an offence under this section, uses any device to avoid detection or otherwise prevent identification with the act or omission, commits an offence or facilitates the commission of such offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N20m or imprisonment of 10 years or to both.”
The amendment proposes a penalty of N15m or a prison term of eight years or both for any “unauthorised modification” of a computer program or data held in any computer or network.
Under Section 8 of the provisions, any act, deliberately intended to make a computer system or network to malfunction for criminal gains, is punishable with a fine of N15m or a jail term of 10 years.
The disclosure of password or access code to any computer or network without authorisation carries a jail term of two years or a fine of N5m or both.
However, the jail term can be as high as 15 years or a fine of N25m or both if the act results to a “substantial loss or damage.”
The proposals also provided various penalties for “identify theft and impersonation, child pornography and related Offences, cyber squatting, cyber terrorism, racist and xenophobic offences, interception of electronic communication, cyber stalking and cyber harassment.”
Cyber criminals are said to get away easily in Nigeria due to weak legal provisions to punish them.
Security agencies and anti-graft bodies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have frequently called for stiffer legal provisions to address the problem.
The two amendments were proposed by a member, Aisha Daniru-Ahmed.
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