by Rachel Ogbu
Following the death of Cynthia Osokogu, lured to Lagos, raped, robbed and killed by some “friends” she made on the Internet, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed for second reading of a bill seeking to provide for penalties for persons involved in cyber-crimes.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Aisha Modibbo (Adamawa/PDP) said the bill had become imperative given the recent incident and the bill seeks to punish people who may indulge in the misuse of their computers and other such devices leading to crimes.
Modibbo said the absence of a cyber-crime law, meant that such episodes would continue to happen and offenders may continue to go unpunished. According to the law-maker, cyber-criminals usually worked as organised groups, adding that such syndicates required to be tackled with a well-articulated and enforceable legislation.
Reports claim the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made 288 arrests relating to cyber-crime but 234 of the cases are still in court due mainly to the absence of an enabling legislation to prosecute the cases.
Minority leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said cyber-crime was a menace to society and should be tackled seriously.
The bill was unanimously passed for second reading and referred to the House Committee on Justice for further legislative action.
Attempts were made during the sixth National Assembly to pass a cyber-crime law.
Before now, about six private member bills were introduced at both chambers of the National Assembly seeking to provide a legal framework to combat cyber-crime and other related offences.
These include 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.
The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, is currently the only law in Nigeria that deals with internet crime issues.
The Act only covers the regulation of internet service providers and cybercafés, but does not deal specifically with the broad spectrum of cyber-crimes.