Stakeholders Divided over Passage of Computer Forensic Institute’s Bill

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Stakeholders were sharply divided yesterday, over the passage of the Chartered Institute of Computer Forensics of Nigeria and for other Related Matters Bill into law.

While some of the stakeholders at the public hearing on the bill organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation spoke in favour of the passage of the piece of legislation into law, others spoke against.

Making his presentations at the public hearing, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the

Computer Forensics Institute of Nigeria (CIFIN) was incorporated in 2008.

Onu who was represented by the Deputy Director, Information, Communication and Technology, Mr. Adebayo Adeyemi said the bill should be expedited in the interest of the country.

He said the bill would enhance national security through improved and speedy investigation, improve criminal justice and administration.

The minister stressed that it would also improve local and indigenous capacity enhancement, while also putting an end to the import of cybercrime or forensics experts to Nigeria.

Onu added, “And lastly, research and development into indigenous development and production of locally developed digital equipment so that our hard earned money will not be taken away.

“This will reduce foreign exchange presently expended on foreign importation of these equipment. We hereby conclude and recommend that this Bill be considered and be passed as it will be of immense benefit to the country.”

In his submission, the President, Chartered Institute of Computer Forensics of Nigeria (CICFON), Prof. Peter Olayiwola said since the bill was in accordance with Section 18 of the Constitution as amended, which stipulates that the government shall promote science and technology, it should be given accelerated hearing and subsequent passage into law.

Olayiwola noted that the objective of the bill was to obtain a charter or legislative backing for the incorporated Computer Forensics Institute of Nigeria and thereby transform it into a Chartered Institute and pioneering Computer Forensics Institute of Nigeria.

He stressed that since 2009, the institute has been conducting training in computer forensics, adding that since 2010, it has provided certifications to its members.

The president noted that most of its members work in the digital and computer forensics of EFCC, Nigeria Police Force, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, DSS, CBN, NCC, etc.

Olayiwola said, “Basically, our members current areas of practice and responsibilities include detection and investigation of all forms crimes, electronic and cybercrime, terrestrial crimes; kidnapping, burglary and others, extraction analysis and electronic evidence, biometrics and identity forensics, cyber intelligence and assisting Judges, Prosecutors and Defence Lawyers in forensically extracting and reporting electronic evidence in courts.”

He was of the opinion that the bill should be speedily considered as it is fundamental to the national security, equity and justice in Nigeria.

However, the President Computer Professionals (Registration) Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Kole Jagun kicked against the passage of the bill, saying there was already an existing law.

He noted that if the bill was passed, there was going to be conflict and abrogation of existing law.

Jagun added: “The CPN is established to regulate and control information technology education and practice in Nigeria.

“Going by the provisions Section 1a and 1b of the proposed Chartered Institute of Computer Forensics of Nigeria Bill, only computer professionals and those with professional skills relating to the use of confidential information can engage in digital mobile and computer forensics.

“This is what your proposed bill said which is already in conflict with the Act (CPN) 1993. Actually, this bill is a duplicate of the CPN Act. It’s a duplicate. Whoever proposes this makes a duplicate Prof Olayiwola has been our member -CPN since 1998. He knows the Act, he knows the law very well.”

Jagun wondered why the institute sought a Charter in ICT.

According to him, the other item was duplicity of functions. “Why would you want to have many chartered institutes in the IT profession? The IT profession is very dynamic. Every day you are getting new areas, are you going to wake up every day and start creating chartered institutes for everybody? No. There is a body to regulate that.”

Jagun stressed that another reason while the bill was being opposed was because of the confusion amongst computer professionals.

He said in accordance with the CPN Act, persons and organisations engaged in computer practice and IT devices in the country are required to register with CPN and obtain a license to practice.

Jagun noted, “Now, if you are approving this Bill, are you saying now that if I want to practice I will get double licenses? “We are recommending that the Bill is withdrawn from the National Assembly forthwith and the sponsors of the Bill should confer with CPN on ways to register with CPN and work with CPN.”

On his part, Air Commodore Amos Bulus, Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said it won’t be in the interest of Nigeria to leave national security in the hands of an institute. He said, “I strongly believe that we will not be doing justice to this country if allowed to run because the national security of the country will actually be left in the hands of the Institute. I think it will not be in our best interest. On that note I want to lend my voice to the earlier position taken by CPN.”