Yesterday, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invited political blogger, Abubakar Sidiq Usman (AbuSidiq), for questioning in their headquarters in Abuja.
According to their statement, AbuSidiq was in violation of some sections of the 2015 Cyber Crime Act, which basically borders on “cyberstalking.” What really happened is AbuSidiq published a negative story about EFCC on his blog and of course, they are not too happy about that.
What sections of the Act does this story violate, you ask? Sections 24 and 58, they say. According to Section 24, “Any person who knowingly sends message or other matter by means of computer systems or network that is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character or causes any such message to be so sent; or he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill-will or needless anxiety to another or causes such a message to be sent; commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7,000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or both.”
Section 58 defines cyberstalking as, “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” First of all, EFCC, is not “a person”. Secondly, I don’t know what about AbuSidiq’s story caused anyone to feel fear. Anger, maybe, but fear? Let’s be serious here.
If you’re familiar with Nigerian Government-speak, you’d know that “invite for questioning” means “arrest”. Right now, AbuSidiq is still in EFCC custody, and in true social media fashion, there’s already a hashtag, #freeabusidiq, trending.
I’d go into much detail about why this Act is (very) problematic, but Osarumen already did that in today’s digest (please, subscribe when you’re done reading 🙂 ). This just feels like a case of “one step forward, two steps back.” We were glad the Senate ditched the social media bill, but now, it seems like we’ll have to keep fighting for internet freedom.