AN APPRAISAL OF THE EFFICACY OF THE LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKS FOR COMBATING CYBERCRIMES IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT


Advances in Artificial Intelligence are credited to have given the world computers that can
defeat people at chess as well as drive cars and manage calendars. However, despite the
progress made, scientists are still unable to develop machines that are capable of replacing
human beings. Cyberspace, credited to be network of interdependent information technology,
infrastructures, telecommunication networks and computer processing system, have provided
new opportunities for new crimes to emerge. Cybercrimes are „new genus of crimes which
use computers for criminal activities. They are crimes committed by means of a special
knowledge of computer technology.‟ Cybercrimes became a source of concern with the
proliferation of computer technology in Nigeria. Some youths in Nigeria have used the new
communication channels for crimes and they are noted to be sending fraudulent proposals to
people and organizations, the world over. The youths have succeeded in carving for Nigeria
negative names and appellations among nations, with global anti-crime bodies such as the
International Police (Interpol) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklisting Nigeria
as one of the most crime vulnerable countries in the World. Nigeria has in place legal regimes
and institutional measures for combating cybercrimes. The aim of this study is to examine the
legal regimes and institutional measures adopted by the Nigerian Government in combating
cyber and computer related crimes with the view to determine their efficacy or otherwise. To
achieve this, the study relied on information such as books, journals, conference papers,
newspapers and internet materials. The findings revealed the inadequacy of the legislative
measures to combat the various cyber specific offences; some of the legislation were enacted
to provide for offences of cheating, obtaining property by false pretences, fraud and related
offences and did not envisage the circumstances where such offences could assume the
sophistication and extra-territoriality they are presently. These shortcomings, coupled with
the dearth of trained personnel with the technical skills, knowhow and resources to
investigate and prosecute offenders, created additional challenges to the enforcement
institutions established to combat the crimes. Equally, the pre-May, 2015 state of Nigerian
cyber related legislation exhibited lack of political will on the part of the Nigerian
Government to combat the scourge of cybercrimes as it took the Nigerian Government ten
years to enact the Nigerian Cybercrimes Act 2015. Besides, the increasing incidence of
crimes and cybercrimes in particular cannot be divorced from the high rate of corruption,
unemployment and extreme poverty bedeviling the Nigerian society. These societal ills breed
criminality in the country. The study recommends the enactment of additional legislation that
will reduce cybercrimes and criminality and provide adequate security and safety to internet
and cyberspace users. It is equally recommended that enforcement institutions be equipped
by the Nigerian Government with skills, manpower and technological knowledge required for
investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes. Again, effort should be made to reduce the
socio-economic injustices that allow crime and criminality to flourish in Nigerian society.

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