"For using profane language on other people or pelting them with insults or abusive words on social networking sites, Internet users in Nigeria risk a jail term that ranges between 12 months and five years.
Section 18 sub-section 1 of the Cyber-Crime Bill 2013, which is pending before the House of Representatives, expressly states that anybody who "insults publicly, through a computer system or network" commits an offence and will be liable on conviction to imprisonment "for a term of not less than five years or to a fine of not less than N10m or to both fine and imprisonment."
Also, the bill prescribes a jail term of five years for anyone who circulates or makes any racist and xenophobic material available online.
Cyber-criminals, who hide under the anonymity of the Internet to bully, harass other users of online platforms also risk jail terms when the law comes into full force.
Section 15 of the bill, which deals with issues of cyber-stalking, prescribes a jail term of 12 months for anyone found guilty of posting messages deemed "grossly offensive, indecent, obscene" or messages aimed at "causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety" to another online user.
Besides, anyone who bullies, threatens or harasses another person, through "information and communication technologies" or posts messages online that contains "threats to kidnap or injure" another person will be jailed five years or pay a fine of N15m or both.
According to the bill, Internet service providers will be required to keep all traffic data and subscriber information for the purpose of prosecuting those suspected of committing cyber-crimes.
The service providers are expected to provide necessary assistance towards the identification, apprehension and prosecution of offenders, failure of which makes them liable to fines and or jail terms.
Part V, Section four of the bill prescribes the Office of the National Security Adviser as the co-coordinating body for all security and enforcement agencies when the bill becomes law.
One of the high points of the law is the prescription of death sentence for anyone who commits an offence against what it calls "critical national information infrastructure" which results in death.
Legal experts in the country have welcomed the efforts of the National Assembly to bring about a comprehensive law that will ensure orderliness on the cyber space.
According to them, the essence of such a law — coming rather too late — will go a long way in ensuring that people don't suffer from acts of defamation and damaged reputation on social networks.
Alas! President Jonathan has found some National issues that he is more than eager to control, right? Bullying Nigerians is obviously his new hobby!