Cybercrime Legislation for Nigeria

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Mobile Broadband has opened the way for more Nigerians to have access to the Internet. Our own editor here at MobilityNigeria, Yomi Adegboye had long said that broadband internet would get into the hands of everyday Nigerians only if and when the mobile telecommunications companies stepped into the fray.

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We have since seen the spike in the number of Nigerians accessing the internet as a result of the deployment of mobile internet services in the country. Some are accessing it via their mobile internet dongles on PCs while others do so directly on their phones.

I remember back in the year 2000, to check my email cost me NGN25. Opening a fresh email account cost NGN100. Fast forward to 2011, I am typing and uploading this piece and also tweeting using my personal “plug-and-pray” internet dongle plugged to my laptop. We can still get better speeds, but we are getting a few things done with the available mobile internet connections.

The huge number of Nigerians that can now access the internet is a huge boost to the economy, creating leverage for youths who are innovative and creative. However, it is also creating a problem, CYBERCRIME.

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Cybercrime is not a problem peculiar to Nigeria. Nigeria is not actually the worst hit by cybercrime. We just happen to be the worst hit by the media. Of course,this perception is very limiting.

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On Friday August 19, 2011, I attended a press conference put together by PIN and Microsoft with the support of World Bank to push a petition to the legislative arm of the Nigerian government for the creation of cybercrime legislation. At the moment, there are no laws in place to protect people who engage in online commerce in Nigeria.

Gbenga Sesan of PIN mentioned the case of a webmaster working for a newspaper house. He swindled the news house of their Google Adsense revenue. But he cannot be prosecuted because digital evidence is not admissible in our courts.

There is also the case of a young man working with a company in the US, but working from Nigeria. He’s been working and getting his pay via bank payment. Suddenly, his employers’ bank refused to pay money into a Nigerian bank.

I know each of us that may have tried to make some form of purchase using a credit or debit card that is legitimate and valid can relate to some of this difficulties. This is making it difficult for Nigerians to compete globally.

A case in point. There are over 700million internet users in India. Imagine if there is an easy way for Nigerian innovators to painlessly receive payment for their work from such countries. Won’t that be a very good opportunity for many young Nigerians? I bet you will agree with me, it is.

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That is the reason Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Microsoft and the World Bank have come together to champion this cause together. Let’s sign the petition for the cybercrime legislation bill to be passed.

‘We need 10,000 people to sign the petition,’ said Gbenga, ‘that will then be taken to Abuja.’

Imagine the possibilities that will open to you when the door of opportunities is eventually opened and we can trade wherever we are as Nigerians and with whomever.

Off course this is only the beginning. I am sure you are asking in your mind, does this stop the scammers from scamming? As Gbenga Sesan said, if Someone can clone a website that is good enough to look like the real and get people caught up in a scam, that same expertise can be used positively with increased opportunities, don’t you think so?

Below is an excerpt of the press release.

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MICROSOFT AND PARADIGM INITIATIVE NIGERIA CALL ON YOUTH TO HELP COMBAT CYBERCRIME IN NIGERIA

World Bank lends support for companies’ advocacy initiative to ensure prompt cybercrime legislation in the country

Lagos, Nigeria 19 August, 2011 – Nigeria reports one of the highest numbers of cybercrime incidents in the world and was recently ranked 3rd, in a report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center which tracks the prevalence of cybercrime globally. Today, Microsoft Corp. and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), with support from the World Bank, launched a joint campaign to spur prompt cybercrime legislation in the country, calling on Nigerian youth to play a key role in the advocacy effort.

As part of the initiative, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities, has launched an internet campaign @ http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/cln/, to obtain signatures for an online petition that will be forwarded to legislators for the required cybercrime legislation that Nigeria needs.

Says Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria: “The prevalence of cybercrime among a sizeable number of young Nigerians goes to show the need for immediate concern, especially with the recent boom in mobile service provision and online payment platforms in Nigeria. We’re advocating for a youth-led push for cybercrime legislation because this is where we feel we’ll have the greatest impact.”

The initiative will be supported by a six-month grant from the World Bank’s Civil Society Fund for the advocacy work required to lobby for cybercrime legislation. Microsoft will participate in the initiative through its Microsoft Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (MISSPIN), a social campaign that directs the spotlight to the issue of internet safety while also providing a platform for other industry players to work together.

Furthermore, highlighting the importance of public and private sector working together to eliminate cybercrime and foster legitimate economic opportunity for Nigerians, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has also worked with Microsoft and PIN on the initiative, providing initial government support, guidance and funding for the Maga no Need Pay Song Project which drew significant attention to the menace of cybercrime in the country.

“Internet fraud in Nigeria is a problem that continues to victimize people around the world, and has a significant impact on the country’s ability to do business globally,” says Ugochukwu Nwosu, Partners in Learning Project Manager, Microsoft Nigeria. “We believe the public and private sector must work together to eliminate cybercrime and foster legitimate economic opportunity for Nigerians, and we’re pleased to support PIN through MISSPIN in partnership the World Bank on an initiative we hope will result in the passage of much-needed cybercrime legislation.”

Says Caroline Sage, Senior Social Development Specialist and CSF Coordinator, World Bank: “The World Bank civil Society Fund is glad to support this youth-led intervention on cybercrime legislation led by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria because we believe it will help lay the foundation towards solving a problem that needs urgent attention. We look forward to the use of social media in the campaign and believe that other winners of the grant will add value in their respective areas of intervention.”

“We are excited to work with Microsoft, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission and the World Bank to raise more awareness on the need for cybercrime legislation in Nigeria,” says Gbenga Sesan. “More than at any other time in the history of Nigeria, now is the time for all stakeholders – youth, government, private sector, civil society, media, and academia – to ask for accelerated passage of firm but fair piece of legislation. We are asking Nigerians to call on the leadership of the National Assembly to accelerate the passage of a much-needed bill.”

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq ‘MSFT’) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

How else do you think that we can combat cybercrime in Nigeria and redeem our image from constantly being misrepresented by the media? I will like to hear from you in the comments.

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In the meantime, why not move ahead to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/cln/ and sign the petition.

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6 comments

  1. This may have broader scope than listed here. I’m already thinking of people that deals on used computers, cloned desktop computers, most of the people that operate business centers and very obvious ones – people who sell fake computer softwares.

    Again if taken further will include downloading copyright protected materials illegally which I believe spurred the free browsing tricks in the country which certainly will also be covered in the legislation.

    1. Harry,

      You are looking at the downside. Let’s see how if drafted and implemented it can lift us up and open more opportunities for creativity and innovation.

      Fake computer software — How do you think they will be affected? please share.

  2. Microsoft is involved in this to start, and softwares are digital content. How, does this really affects Microsoft if they are not going to benefit? Illegal software downloaded from some file sharing sites like the pirate bay are what these guys at computer village are repackaging and selling as genuine software. This is some form of fraud or at least theft. There business might not appear to be related to online or internet fraud but the business is initiated from the internet where they get most of the software they repackage and sell.

    It is certainly fraud if potential customers are sold fake software at absurd price preventing the software makers from benefiting from their work. Don’t be surprised that Microsoft is going to convince our government on how they are losing money because of the activities of all these illegal software dealers.

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