The Nigerian government is set to introduce tough jail terms for persons found guilty of committing financial crimes through the use of mobile phones, internet and Automatic Teller Machines (ATM), This Day reports.
The jail terms range from 5 to 14 years, the new measures are contained in a Bill to prohibit fraud in all electronic transactions in the country, sponsored by Senator Ayo Arise .
The Bill, which has gone through the first reading in the Senate, is entitled: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition of Electronic Fraud in all Electronic Transactions in Nigeria and for other Related Matters.”
The Bill prescribes a seven-year jail term for, and in the case of second conviction, a 14-year jail term for the offence of intercepting electronic messages, e-mails and electronic money transfers.
According to the Bill, “Any person, who unlawfully destroys or aborts any electronic mails or processes through which money and or valuable information is being conveyed, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years and upon second conviction shall be liable to fourteen years imprisonment.”
It also outlaws the unlawful possession of or forging of credit card, debit card, smart card, ATM card or any other related electronic payment system devices whether or not such devices are fully or partially loaded with funds. Any person found liable would have to cool off in jail for a period of seven years.
The Bill also states that: “Any person, who being employed by or under the authority of any Bank or other financial institutions (who) either directly or indirectly unlawfully diverts electronic mails, with the intent to commit or omit any act or order to benefit directly or indirectly, is liable to imprisonment for seven years or a fine of five million naira or both.”
The practice of sending viruses or computer worms or computer programme with the intention to damage or manipulate a computer record or obtain other records or date belonging to the Government, Educational, Research or any Financial Institution is a crime and would attract a 7-year jail term or a N5 million fine, according to the Bill.
However, any person who deliberately spreads false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through electronic messages would be liable on conviction to a 7-year imprisonment or N5 million fine or both.
Those whose pastime is to send pornographic messages through the internet to other computers may also be heading for a tough time as the Bill has prescribed a jail term of 1 year or a fine of N250,000.
The Bill specifically states: “Any person who, knowingly, sends pornographic images to another computer, by way of unsolicited distribution, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to 1 year imprisonment or a fine of 250,000.00 Naira or both.”