Cybercrime: Ministry of Justice, PIN seek freedom of digital rights

By Titilope Fadare

OrderPaperToday– The Federal Ministry of Justice has called for online privacy and freedom expression.

The ministry made the call during a workshop on Digital Rights and Cybercrimes in collaboration with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) on capacity building for law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

The main focus of the workshop was on the section 24 and 38 of the Nigeria’s Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015.

The programme manager at PIN, Adeboye Adegoke said the choice of sections was deliberate as they were prone to be misapplied and thus infringe freedom of expression and privacy of information.

He said: “Section 24, in particular, has already been cited in more than ten documented cases of alleged illicit arrest and abuse of rights. Provisions of Sections 24 and 38 of the Act were examined at the workshop as they are believed to be threats to digital rights in Nigeria.

“Section 24 poses a threat to freedom of expression online while section 38 gives security agencies the right to hold on to citizen’s information, thereby violating their rights to privacy of their information online.”

According to a statement, the conference provided an opportunity for participants to review cases of arrests related to sections 24 and 38 of the Act and the effects of these arrests on citizens.

Participants were drawn from the Nigerian Police Force and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from various states in Nigeria and the FCT.

Executive Director, PIN,  Mr ‘Gbenga Sesan, emphasised the importance of the internet to democratic participation in Nigeria, and stressed that though rights in the digital realm exist, they are not respected and are subject to abuse.

He added that “Surveillance and Interception must be lawful, with clearly stated procedures and clear judicial oversight to avoid abuse.

“Respect for human rights in the day to day activities of law enforcement officers helps to foster citizen and security agency cooperation.

“It is well known that countries that focus on innovation rather than clampdowns avail themselves huge economic opportunities.

“This can be seen through the relationship between the GDP of those countries and the level of internet penetration and internet freedom”.

Also addressing the participants at the training, Head, Computer Crime Prosecution Unit at Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. George-Maria Tyendezwa,  stressed that “we must differentiate between libel and slander from cyberstalking, and that one-time acts don’t constitute stalking mentioned in Section 24.

“Anyone that feels defamed not to use the apparatus of the state to oppress anyone but to go to court for remedy.”

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