REGULATION OF CYBERCRIME IN NIGERIA: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Notwithstanding the inadequacies of cyber law in Nigeria, the crimes have been on increase. And when anyone is caught in the act, it becomes a problem on how to resolve some procedural problems as there is currently no law regulating Cybercrimes in Nigeria. The issues that may arise are the purpose of this research work, the scope, the significance and the research method used will be discussed in this chapter.

  • BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Advancements in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have led to the representation of different types of information in electronic formats. The consequence is that currently text, pictures and voice can all be digitized. Along with these geometric changes in information presentation and distribution are tandem demands in user expectations for more rapid, open and global access to information than has been available in the past. However, this migration from traditional communication medium to the new media seems to constitute a threat to the existence of a number of traditional print institutions and has provided a platform for fraudulent (criminal) internet activities. Computers are increasingly more affordable and internet connectivity is also becoming common place, for instance the introduction of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) in Nigeria and the influx of digital and online services such as the MP3 players, IPod, cell phones with internet access and blogs.[1]

Cybercrime is a major concern to the global community. The introduction, growth and utilization of information and Communication technologies (ICTs) have been accompanied by an increase in criminal activities. Cybercrime is increasingly astronomical each day as the internet continues to permeate every nook and cranny of our society and no one can predict the next dimension. The crime usually attracts attention globally because its impacts are ubiquitous just as its negative effect is devastating to the economy and leads to investment phobia.

The proliferation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria (just as in other countries) has brought with it tremendous changes in socio-economic growth and development in different facets of Nigerian economy, banking, insurance, stock market, law, production services etc. Paradoxically, ICT has also evolved to become a sophisticated tool in the hand of criminals for perpetuating different forms of Cybercrime. Unintended consequences such as email scam, identity theft, child pornography, organized crime and solicitation for prostitution, fake lotteries and scam text messages (more frequent on social networks like facebook) as well as cyber piracy are few of the vices that have become recurring indices on the internet. A wave of fraudulent mails and other sharp practices referred to as “419” scamming in Nigerian parlance pervade the entire web space. This ugly trend acts as a cankerworm against economic development in Nigeria and has compounded the challenges facing Nigeria in the fight against corruption and other vices. It also has the potential to serve as a breeding ground for cyber terrorism where religious extremists and militants within Nigeria can recruit, train and plan terrorist attacks with just laptops and internet access.

There is no doubt from the foregoing that Cybercrime is an image nightmare for Nigeria. Some Nigerian youths have decided to turn their backs on opportunities and compelled by the get-rich-quick syndrome to use internet for criminal means. This research work seeks to show that currently the legal regime is not well suited to face the challenges posed by Cybercrimes. At present, there is no cyber law in the country and a Bill[2] has been lying dormant in the National Assembly since 2011 without much enthusiasm on members to pass this Bill. The researcher argues that law enforcement officials cannot effectively pursue cyber criminals unless they have the legal tools necessary to do so.

  • STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

This research work will show that the rise in Cybercrimes in Nigeria is an offshoot to other numerous problems.[3] Some of these problems are caused by mismanagement on the part of leading elites, while others are caused by lack of value orientation. The rise in Cybercrimes such as ATM frauds, piracy, hacking, pornography, email scams etc. is not favourable to our economic cum socio development. It imparts negatively to every facet of our nation life; it scares investors and discourages local and foreign investment, it also erodes public confidence in the financial sector and discourages hard work in academic environment. Pornography also has negative effects on the young ones. Further, this work will show that currently Nigeria has no law regulating activities on the cyber space and the only laws which appear close to the problem are the EFCC Act[4], Money Laundering Act[5] and the Advanced Fee Fraud Act[6]. The researcher recommends that since there is already an existing Bill[7] in the National Assembly it should be reviewed and passed in to law to enable effective regulation of cybercrime. However, the inadequacies of these laws to tackle the hydra headed problem of cybercrime will be discussed. This work is intended to analyze the existing legal regime for the prevention of cybercrimes in Nigeria to see the adequacies or otherwise.

  • OBJECTIVE/PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The principal purpose of this work is to appraise the legal framework in Nigeria for the regulation of Cybercrimes. This has become necessary in view of the ever increasing volume of cyber transactions especially in the field of trade, banking, law, governance, education etc. and the multifarious security concerns or challenges concomitant to it. Further analysis will amongst other things:

  1. Discuss the nature and types of cybercrimes
  2. Assess the inadequacies of cybercrime preventive mechanisms in Nigeria
  • Examine the existing legal regime for combating cybercrimes in Nigeria
  1. Analyse the Nigerian Cybersecurity Bill 2011
  2. Suggest how cybercrimes can be effectively tackled in Nigeria.

 

1.4   SCOPE OF THE STUDY

There is no doubt that cybercrime is a universal problem and any discourse or study in this area has to go round the globe. That notwithstanding, this research work will try as much as possible to focus on the problems of cybercrime as it relates to Nigeria. The scope of this work includes but not limited to; an overview of cybercrimes in Nigeria, the existing legal regime for combating cybercrimes in Nigeria. An attempt will be made to analyze the Nigerian Cybersecurity Bill 2011 and a comparison of international perspectives of cybercrimes and the Nigeria Cybersecurity Bill 2011 will be x-rayed.

1.5   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The importance of this study cannot be overemphasized. This is because, this study will be of benefit to every user of the internet. The study is aimed at analyzing the relevant legal framework to point out its shortcomings in tackling cybercrimes in Nigeria. The government and policy makers will find this work very handy in their attempt to find a solution to this problem. Similarly, this work will assist law enforcement agencies in their bid to curb e-crimes in Nigeria. This study will also help law researchers and even those in related discipline in their further research.

1.6   RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The doctrinal research method is largely used in the collection of data needed for the research of this work. The research will combine both primary and secondary sources of materials. The relevant statutes and case laws will be consulted to assist in this research work.

The nature of the work also demands that much reliance will be placed on internet materials, textbooks, journals and articles written in the area will also be used.

[1] Obuh, A.O, Cybercrime Regulation: The Nigerian situation,

[2] Cybersecurity Bill, 2011. Other related Bills which aimed at checking Cybercrimes include: Computer Security and Information Infrastructure Protection Bill (2005), the Cybercrime Bill (2004), the  EFCC Act (Amendment) Bill (2010), the Electronic Fraud and Prohibition Bill (2008), the Nigerian Computer Security and Protection Agency Bill (2009), and the Cyber Security and Data Protection Agency (Establishment) Bill (2008).

[3] This include: corruption, ethnicity, nepotism, electoral violence, religious conflict, youth restiveness and unemployment to mention but a few.

[4]Cap E1 LFN 2004

[5] Cap M18 LFN 2004

[6] Cap A14 LFN 2004

[7] Cybersecurity Bill, 2011

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