THE EFFECT OF CYBERCRIMES (PROHIBITION, PREVENTION, ETC) ACT, 2015 ON THE OFFENCE OF PHISHING
By OLAWALE DADA
Nigeria is a state blessed with plethora of Laws; an individual will definitely find it difficult to move the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (LFN 2004) from one place to another. The laws are obviously present; the problem is the execution of these laws. The Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015, (referred to as ‘the Act’ was passed to tackle the increasing menace of cybercrime and other related offence which phishing is well included.
Phishing is defined in the Act as the criminal and fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication through e-mails or instant messaging either in form of an email from what appears from your bank asking a user to change his or her password or reveal his or her identity so that such information can later be used to defraud the user. The Punishment for the offence is provided for in Section 32(1) of the Act as follows “Any person who knowingly or intentionally engages In computer phishing shall be liable upon conviction to 3 years imprisonment or a fine of N1, 000,000.00 or both.
Despite the introduction of the act, the act of phishing did not in any way decrease, rather it increased.
The cause of this increase in not farfetched, firstly the offence of phishing was limited to electronic communications by messages and emails, neglecting the communication via voice call. Secondly it will be shocking that a random selection of 10 average Nigerian may not witness 4 people who are aware of the fact that whenever someone poses as a bank agent asking for personal information it is an offence, in a nut shell where 4 people are aware of the act, most people are not aware of the offence of phishing. The awareness is little and the best we get from bank officers is that no personal information should be revealed, a better approach will be that such communication should be reported to the appropriate officers who should be available in order to bring the offender to justice.
The Act on its own cannot in any way stop or prevent phishing, the just implementation of the act, extending the offence of phishing and providing for responsible avenues to lay complaint which will be treated in good faith will be a better approach to stop or prevent phishing.