Aug 25, 2015

OFFENCES A BLOGGER SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR

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Recently, a blogger got remanded by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for publishing certain information about a bank MD which turned out to be false. The blog claimed the MD had impregnated a certain lady which led to the dissolution of her marriage. Needless to say, the story was false and the blogger was charged to court. Currently, he is being remanded pending his bail application which is to be heard on September 1 before the Honourable Court. The prosecution argues that the blogger’s post is in contravention of Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act, which provides that any person who intentionally or knowingly sends a message which is grossly offensive or obscene and found to be false, by means of computer network, is liable on conviction to a fine of N7, 000, 000 or three years imprisonment or both.


Blogging is awesome, especially for people who love to write, it is a great medium for sharing thoughts with the world. It is also known to be a great form of investment which can literally earn the blogger millions. The Linda Ikeji blog is a terrific example. However, the excitement to post blogs and attract online traffic should not come as a result of spreading falsehoods or defaming character, rather it should be as a result of publishing superior content. Though we all know that gossip sells better in some instances and attracts more fans too. Bloggers have in the past been accused of malice and ill-intentions when stories are published on their blogs. Most of these posts are usually unverified and could be misleading. 

Bloggers, must however now be very careful of what they post as the Federal Government has passed a law declaring a number of online acts done by many to be a crime. For instance, section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act, 2015 states:

“Any   person   who   knowingly   or   intentionally   sends   a   message   or   other   matter   by means of  computer  systems  or  network  that:
  
(a)   is   grossly   offensive,   pornographic   or   of   an   indecent,   obscene   or   menacing  character  or  causes  any  such  message  or  matter  to  be  so  sent;  or

(b)   he   knows   to   be   false,   for   the   purpose   of   causing   annoyance,   inconvenience, danger,   obstruction,   insult,   injury,   criminal   "intimidation,   enmity,   hatred,   ill   will     or  needless  anxiety  to  another  or  causes  such  a  message  to  be  sent: commits  an  offence  under  this  Act  and  shall  be  liable  on  conviction  to  a  fine  of  not  more  than  N7,000,000.00  or  imprisonment  for  a  term  of  not  more  than  3  years  or  to  both  such  fine  and  imprisonment.”
 
Credits -Google
In its subsection (2), the law also states that any  person  who  knowingly  or  intentionally  transmits  through  a  computer  system  or  network --

(a)   to   bully,   threaten   or   harass   another   person,   where   such   communication   places  another  person  in  fear  of  death,  violence    or    bodily  harm  or  to  another  person; Cyberstalking.

(b)  containing  any  threat  to  kidnap  any  person  or  any  threat  to  harm  the  person  of  another,   any   demand   or   request   for   a   ransom   for   the  release   of   any   kidnapped  person,   to   extort   from   any   person,   firm,   association   or   corporation,   any   money   or  other  thing  of  value;  or

(c)  containing  any  threat  to  harm  the  property  or  reputation  of  the  addressee  or  of  another   or   the   reputation   of   a   deceased person   or   any   threat   to   accuse   the  addressee   or   any   other   person   of   a   crime,   to   extort   from   any   person,   firm,  association,  or  corporation,  any  money  or  other  thing  of  value: commits  an  offence  under  this  Act  and  shall  be  liable  on  conviction.

(i)  in  the case  of  paragraphs  (a)  and  (b)  of  this  subsection  to  imprisonment  for  a  term  of  10  years  and/or  a  minimum  fine  of N25,000,000.00;  and(ii)  in  the  case  of  paragraph  (c)  and  (d)  of  this  subsection,  to  imprisonment  for  a  term  of  5  years  and/or  a  minimum  fine  of  N15,000,000.00.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that any blogger who fails to pay detailed attention to the information being shared via their respective blogs and ensures that same is not false and malicious may end up at the Federal High Court being charged for defamation. The period of jail time stipulated in the law and the fines which may be imposed on anyone found guilty of breaching these laws are very steep. I therefore insist that you kindly watch what you blog about on the internet.


Adedunmade Onibokun
@adedunmade
  
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