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Tough time for pranksters, skit makers – The Sun Nigeria | #cybercrime | #infosec


As police go after reckless social media users

By Olakunle Olafioye

The reality of the Nigeria cybercrime laws is beginning to dawn on reckless social media users in the country. The last few weeks have seen a number of prominent social media users getting on the wrong side of the law in the country following their unrestrained use of the cyber space.

 

A family court sitting at Iyaganku, Ibadan, had in July ordered the remand of a popular prankster, Maruf Abdullahi, popularly known as the Trinity Guy over an allegation of sexualising a minor.  In a skit that went viral on social media earlier, the prankster was seen compelling a 10-year-old girl to give descriptive details of his genitals.

Giving details of the case, spokesperson of the Nigerian Police Force, Muyiwa Adejobi, revealed that the arraignment and the eventual remand of the social media content creator followed a series of complaints by CLOs and NGOs over the activities of the accused. 

“There is no sentiment in law, like I always say. Others should be able to learn from his actions and inactions,” Adejobi said.

The police spokesman revealed that preliminary investigations showed that the obscene video which was a clear violation of Sections 32, 35 and 36 of the Child Rights Act 2023 was recorded with the consent of the parents of the girl, Mr Isiaka Ahmed and Rofiat Ahmed, who were arraigned and remanded alongside the social media content creator. They have all been released on bail.

Abdullahi was still battling to extricate himself from the legal web when news filtered in that the police were also investigating another skit maker, Abdulgafar Abiola popularly known as Cute Abiola for possible prosecution.

Abiola, the police claimed , released two different skits on July 20 and 24, this year, where he allegedly portrayed the police uniform in a disrespectful and derogatory light.

The Force Public spokesman in a statement said that Abiola violated Section 252 of the Criminal Code and Section 133 of the Penal Code. 

“We have warned skit makers to desist from disrespecting police uniforms. Such acts are not only offensive, but also undermine the integrity and dignity of the men and women who wear the uniform in service to the nation.

“Abdulgafar Abiola will be investigated and possibly prosecuted for his deliberate acts as the NPF had already warned skit makers and filmmakers to desist from desecrating their uniform or accouterments.

“The Force is committed to upholding the sanctity of the uniform and will pursue due legal process to ensure accountability for any individual or entity that seeks to bring disrepute to the uniform or the institution it represents,” Adejobi said.

A fortnight ago, a female social media user, Okoye Blessing Nwakaego, was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly transmitting false information about a popular actress, Eniola Badmus. Nwakaego was found guilty of the offence by Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos after pleading guilty to the two-count charge of cyberstalking and transmission of false and offensive communication against Badmus.

Nwakaego, had in a viral video labeled the Nollywood actress a pimp, who specialized in introducing young ladies to men. 

The convict was said to have committed the offence alongside one Chimabia who was said to be at large between December, 2022 and July, 2023. 

The offences, according to the prosecutor, Mr Nosa Watson Uhumwangho, are contrary to and punishable under Sections 27 and 24(1)(b)(2)(a)(c) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015.

Justice Oweibo in handing down the judgment, sentenced Nwakaego to a three-year imprisonment on the two-count charge with the option of a fine of N150,000.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, an adherent of traditional religion and top member of Kwara State Association of Traditional Religion, Mrs Efunsetan Abebi Aniwura Olarisha is currently being remanded at the Oke Kura Custodial Centre on the orders of a magistrate court over alleged defamation of character.

In the heat of the ongoing crisis between adherents of traditional religion and Moslem faithful in Kwara State, Mrs Efunsstan was alleged to have claimed that a popular Muslim cleric in the state, Sheik Okutagidi sought spiritual help from her while the wife of the Muslim cleric was in labour sometime ago, in an interview which trended on social media. 

She, however, denied the claim in her statement to the police. 

Consequently, the magistrate ordered her remand until Tuesday August 29.

 Abuse and misuse of the cyber space in these manners had made the government to consider regulating the use of social media in the past without much success. 

Civil Societies Organisations, CSOs, in the country have always considered moves by the government to regulate the social media as attempts to suppress freedom of expression in the country.

Towards the end of 2015, the government through lawmakers in the National Assembly started the campaign against the abuse of social media and attempted a legislation to regulate it. 

Then  then Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah had sponsored a bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters connected therewith.

 Na’Allah had explained that he sponsored the bill to sanitize information flow on the social media. 

According to him, “social media is a very valuable platform for dissemination of information and it has helped this country greatly, but of recent, we have seen some few bad eggs who have turned it into a business venture.

“They collect money from people and go into the social media to tarnish the image of their political opponents. It is against this backdrop that we felt people should behave responsibly on the platform.”

Opposition from Civil Societies Organisations ensured that the bill did not see the light of the day. 

But almost two years later, the National Assembly also considered another bill seeking to regulate the use of the social media in Nigeria. 

The bill sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa representing Niger East Senatorial District , according to the senator is “aimed at addressing a growing threat, which if left unchecked , can cause serious damage in our polity and disrupt peaceful coexistence.”

Like the previous moves, the groundswell opposition championed by civil societies led to the demise of the bill.

Then came the consistent call by the then Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,  on stakeholders on the need to agree on the modalities for regulating social media in the country which was equally met with a rebuff.

In June 2022, the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, released another document called a draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer System Platform/Internet Intermediaries. 

And like the previous moves before it, vociferous opposition again drowned the document.

Speaking on the increasing abuse of the social media in Nigeria, Mrs Stephanie Ogbona, lawyer and human rights crusader, said that the recent development in the country is a confirmation that all that was lacking in sanitizing the nation’s cyber space is strict enforcement of the guidelines already in place to regulate the use of social media.

 Her words: “The CSOs in this country have always maintained that there are sufficient guidelines against the abuse of the social media by users and that there is no need to  come up with more. We only need to up our game in the area of enforcement and the prosecution of offenders. After the ongoing cases against those who are currently under prosecution, it is my belief that we will begin to witness more restraints and less recklessness on social media.”


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