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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
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.”
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.