The Senate has successfully passed a bill seeking to amend the Cyber Crimes Act of 2015 during its plenary session on Wednesday. The bill, presented by Sen. Shehu Buba (APC – Bauchi), received consideration and approval, marking a significant step in the legislative process.
Sen. Shehu Buba explained that the primary objective of the bill is to amend Section 44 of the existing Cyber Crimes Act and incorporate certain consequential amendments that were omitted in the initial legislation. He highlighted the evolving nature of crimes in the digital and information technology age, emphasising the need for updated legislation.
Buba stated, “The digital and information technology age has created new avenues and tools for committing traditional crimes and new forms of crimes. In Nigeria, there has been a significant increase in internet-based advance fee fraud, such as cases of hacking into emails, websites, and infringement on the privacy rights of individuals and institutions, which call for an urgent solution.”
He pointed out that the legislation related to advance fee fraud was among the earliest interventions by the Federal Government in addressing cybercrimes. However, the existing law was deemed insufficient to address the complexities of technological advancements.
Buba continued, “The most recent statute on cybercrimes in Nigeria is the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015. The vaunted objectives of this act include the provision of an effective and unified legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution, and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.”
The act was also designed to safeguard critical national information infrastructure, enhance cyber security, protect computer systems, networks, electronic communications, data, computer programmes, intellectual property, and privacy rights. The bill presented in the Senate aimed to address any inconsistencies that hindered the effective implementation of the act.
Sen. Buba underlined the importance of aligning legislative efforts with the objectives outlined in the current National Security Strategy of 2019. He stressed that the national strategy has specifically defined and integrated cyber security as a significant component of the comprehensive national security architecture, aimed at safeguarding and defending the nation’s economic, political, and security infrastructure.
The bill was also structured to align with the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy on Nigeria Cyber Threat Profile, which identified seven major cyber threats that posed risks to national security and the economy.
Following the successful second reading of the bill, Sen. Barau Jibrin, the Deputy President of the Senate presiding over the plenary session, referred the bill to the Committee on Cyber Crime and National Security for further legislative deliberation and instructed them to report back in four weeks.