The House of Representatives, the lower house of the Nigerian National Assembly, has passed the bill for a second reading, which will clearly state the category of punishment for those who use computers and other ICT devices for criminal activities.
This bill is the seventh attempt since 2005 to establish a legal framework for tackling cybercrime.
Aisha Modibbo, a representative of the Adamawa state and sponsor of the bill, said Nigeria urgently needs the bill considering the spate of crimes that are connected to the internet.
Recent cyber threats were targeted at the Nigerian Defense, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies.
Cynthia Osokogu, an army general’s daughter, was robbed, raped and killed in July after she was lured to Lagos by people she met on Facebook.
Without an enabling cybercrime law, Modibbo said such cases would continue to soar and the law enforcing agencies will be unable to prosecute cybercriminals.
She described how cybercriminals in Nigeria operate. According to her, they organise themselves into groups, something which could be effectively challenged when there is a well articulated and enforceable legislation.
The lack of legislation, she said, is impeding the activities of some government agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is saddled with the responsibility of combating financial and economic crimes.
“The EFCC has made 288 arrests relating to cyber-crime but 234 of the cases were still pending in court due mainly to the absence of an enabling legislation to prosecute the cases,” Modibbo said.
Speaking at the house session where the bill was deliberated, the House’s Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila described cybercrime as a menace to the society and said it was time Nigeria became more committed to tackling it.
The previous bills were the Computer Security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Bill 2005; Cyber Security and Data Protection Agency Bill 2008; Electronic Fraud Prohibition Bill 2008; Nigeria Computer Security and Protection Agency Bill 2009; Computer Misuse Bill 2009 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2010.