In our increasingly connected world, the digital age has brought
forth numerous benefits, transforming the way we communicate, work,
and access information. Nigeria, like many countries in the digital
age, has equally witnessed a rapid transformation in its
technological landscape. However, these rapid technological
advancements have also given rise to a host of legal challenges,
particularly in the realm of cybercrimes and internet regulations.
As our lives become more entwined with the digital realm, it is
crucial to address these challenges to ensure a safe and secure
online environment. It is against this background that this piece
aims to explore the unique legal landscape in Nigeria concerning
cybercrimes and internet regulations and the measures taken to
address these challenges.
CYBERCRIMES IN NIGERIA AND ASSOCIATED CHALLENGES
According to the Draft International Convention to Enhance
Protection from Cyber Crime and Terrorism1, cybercrime
refers to conduct with respect to computer systems that is
classified as an offense punishable by the convention.
Although not defined under the Cybercrimes Act, cybercrime is an
act that covers the entire range of crimes that involves computers,
computer networks, cell phones, etc either as its target or as an
instrumentality or associate.2 Therefore, it goes to say
that any criminal activity perpetrated with the aid of or against
such electronic equipment and on the internet is cybercrime.
One of the challenges that has permeated the digital space in
Nigeria is cybercrimes. These range from a number of crimes such as
identity theft, phishing, cyberstalking, advance fee fraud, etc.
More disappointing and dangerous is the fact that the perpetrators
not only target unsuspecting Nigerians but have also transcended
their sphere of operations beyond the Nigerian borders with cases
often reported of white men and women falling victim to these
According to a report by the Guardian Newspaper on August 3,
2022, the peril of cybercrimes in Africa recorded a massive rise in
the first six months of 2022, “with phishing and scams hitting
438 percent and 174 percent in Kenya and Nigeria,
respectively”.4 With the glowing rise in
cybercrimes, one is left to wonder if there are no laws to cushion
its effects as well as punish erring offenders in order to reduce
its growing popularity.
It is imperative to at this point state that as part of efforts
by the federal government of Nigeria to combat cybercrimes, the
Cybercrimes Act, 20155 was enacted by the National
Assembly to ensure an effective, unified, and comprehensive legal,
regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition,
prevention, detection, prosecution, and punishment of cybercrimes
The Act punishes cyber crimes such as cyber terrorism, identity
theft, impersonation, phishing, spamming, cybersquatting,
cyberstalking, child pornography, and related offenses, etc.
Although law enforcement and anti-graft agencies have been on the
prowl of these internet fraudsters with several
arraignments6 and some convictions recorded, the tide is
still rising with news outlets reporting cases of arrest, arrest,
or convictions of these cybercriminals. While the Cybercrimes Act
with its very commendable provisions has been helpful in fighting
cybercrimes, it has been argued in some quarters that the
implementation level is still low and that Nigeria still has a long
way to go in its fight against cybercrimes.
The Cybercrimes Act not only criminalizes cybercrimes but also
contains provisions for the compensation of cybercrime victims. In
appropriate cases, the court may order the convict to:
- Pay the victim an amount equivalent to the loss sustained;
- Return the property to the victim or person designated by him;
- Pay an amount equal to the value of the property, where the
return of the property is impossible.7
Additionally, the order of restitution may be enforced by the
victim or by the prosecutor on behalf of the victim in the same
manner as a valid judgment of the court in a civil action.
A victim of cybercrime may also institute civil actions in
addition to the criminal action. Such civil action includes but is
not limited to defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence, breach
of contract, misrepresentation, breach of confidence, damages,
The digital age has brought about a host of legal challenges in
Nigeria, particularly in the areas of cybercrimes and internet
regulations. While the country has made significant strides in
enacting relevant legislation and regulations, challenges persist
in enforcement, jurisdiction, and maintaining a balance between
privacy and security.
To successfully navigate these challenges, Nigeria must continue
to adapt its legal framework, enhance international collaboration,
and invest in cybersecurity education and awareness. By doing so,
Nigeria can build a safer and more secure digital environment for
its citizens and contribute to the global efforts to combat
cybercrimes in the digital age.
1 See Article 1 of the Draft International Convention to
Enhance Protection from Cyber Crime and Terrorism
2 Akinkunmi Akinwunmi “The Nigerian Internet
Law” 2019 P. 109
3 See https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/04/nigerian-woman-21-dupes-german-lover-n101m-in-romance-scam/
(Accessed on September 12, 2023) at 5:10 pm. See also
(Accessed on September 12, 2023) at 5:50 pm
(Accessed on September 13, 2023) at 2:10 pm
5 Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act,
6 See https://www.pressreader.com/nigeria/thisday/20160504/282278139534581
(Accessed on September 11, 2023 at 10:55 am) See also https://www.facebook.com/officialefcc/photos/a.510716818950813/2102462823109530/?type=3
(Accessed on September 11, 2023) at 10:50 am
7 See Section 49 of the Cybercrimes Act
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.