Senate President, David Mark
By Efem Nkanga
A legal expert in electronic business transactions, Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, has described the non-passage of the Cyber Crime bill as very unfortunate.
Ewelukwa, in a chat with THISDAY lamented that up to six bills dealing with computer misuse and cyber crime had failed to become law in Nigeria.
He disclosed that the six bills were the Computer Security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Bill 2005 (sponsored by the Executive), the Cyber Security and Data Protection Agency (Establishment, etc) Bill 2008 (sponsored by Hon. Bassey Etim), the Electronic Fraud Prohibition Bill 2008 (sponsored by Senator Ayo Arise), the Nigeria Computer Security and Protection Agency Bill 2009 (another executive bill), the Computer Misuse Bill 2009 (sponsored by Senator Wilson Ake) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2010 (sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Shehu Bunu’).
He emphasised that the non passage of the bill would affect confidence to enter into business transactions because confidence is usually hinged on trust, and the trust element becomes even more critical where one wants to transact business online due to the faceless nature of the virtual market.
]Ewelukwa said Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, currently the only law in Nigeria that deals with internet crime issues only covers the regulation of internet service providers and cybercafés, but does not deal with the broad spectrum of computer misuse and cyber crimes.
He thus reiterated that, offences like computer hacking, spamming, online identity theft, and ordering goods electronically using skimmed credit or debit cards were not punishable under Nigerian law and this is likely to seriously dampen interest in ecommerce.
Ewelukwa who is also a Senior Teaching Fellow of International Trade Law, School of Law & Social Sciences, University of London, said that those transacting business electronically have to be very careful.
He emphasised that some of the protective steps they could take included “ensuring the installation of a very good internet security package on their computer systems, being careful about online offers and deals that appear too good to be true, transacting mainly with companies with known brand names.” Others were “being careful about companies whose physical business addresses are not stated on their websites, buying goods from websites with secure payment portals, and transacting business with companies based in countries with strong legal provisions for cyber crime, data protection and consumer protection.”
He also urged users to take the precautionary measure of verifying the integrity of any company or person before engaging in electronic transactions with them. This, according to him, could be done for instance by phoning or visiting the company or checking with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to see whether they have any adverse information regarding the company.