Aug 9, 2016

Penalty for Cyberstalking in Nigeria

The Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015 provides for an effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria. The act also ensures the protection of critical national information infrastructure, and promotes cybersecurity and the protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programs, intellectual property and privacy rights.

As Nigeria’s online community grows daily with the springing of thousands of blogs every week, the Cybercrimes Act is a piece of legislation that should get the attention of bloggers and online information marketers. One of the offences prohibited under the Act is “Cyberstalking” which can be found under Section 24 of the Act. It provides that -

(1)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.

By virtue of the above provisions, it seems a number of people are guilty of this offence. Many bloggers and online users are guilty of sending messages and articles over the internet which can be considered to come under the purview of Section 24(1). 

The act further states in Subsection 2 that -
Any person who intentionally transmits any communication through a computer system 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; commits an offence under the Act and shall be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years and/or a minimum fine of N25,000,000.00.

The penalty mentioned above also goes to persons found liable of transmitting communications which - contain any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to harm another person, 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;

Furthermore, if the transmission contains any threat to harm the property or reputation of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse another person of a crime, or to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value: such person commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of 5 years and/or a minimum fine of N15,000,000.00.

It should be noted that the courts have the power to make an order protecting the victim of a Cyberstalker and the Act empowers all law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies to develop requisite institutional capacity for the effective implementation of the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act. 

It is important that every active online user is familiar with the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act to ensure they do not run fowl of its provisions. 

Dunmade Onibokun 

Principal Partner 
Adedunmade Onibokun & Co.