Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called on Nigerian youths to acquaint themselves with the Cybercrime Act and its operations for proper guidance.
The Cybercrime bill was signed into law in May 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta charged them to acquaint themselves with the contents of the Act in order to be properly guided in their cyber operations.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, observed that the Cybercrime Act has become law since May last year and it was therefore imperative for New Media practitioners to familiarise themselves with its contents as it affects their practice. Pointing to various sections of the Act, he explained that the Act does not encumber freedom of expression as erroneously believed but instead it seeks to protect those whose freedom may be damaged by the freedom freely expressed by others.

For instance, Section 24 of the Act, Danbatta pointed out, deals with Cyber stalking and prescribes punishment for any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means of computer system or network, which, among others, “he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another or cause such message to be sent, commits an offense under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7, 000, 000. 00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

In addition to Danbatta’s paper, the Commission raised a team of technocrats and industry practitioners to help bring more understanding to the document, which participants agreed is still very fresh in the public domain. In fact a blogger who was one of the first victims of the Act and spent some weeks in Ikoyi prisons while waiting to perfect his bail, threw the gathering into laugher when he informed that his lawyers were arguing over the existence of the Act even as he was being taken to the prison.

Danbatta, who acknowledged the contribution of the media to the growth of the telecommunication industry, and also in bringing the sector to global attention, pledged that under his watch, the NCC would be happy to associate with anything that can add value to the practice of journalism, especially in the area of capacity building, and thus help to prevent unpleasant consequences arising from needless infractions.