Ethical and Legal Landmines in the Age of Digital Journalism in Nigeria (Part 2)



Continuing the Ethical and Legal landmines in the age of digital Journalism in Nigeria,  from Part 1,  Kamela Okara, Barrister, Gray’s Inn London, LLB Middlesex, BL, spoke on the following listed below.


Copyright Act

Sections 15 and 16 of the Copyright Act protects copyright work for a copyright owner. Therefore, publication or other act, which is an infringement of copyright work, or intellectual property, is wrongful and attracts appropriate sanctions under copyright law. There are remedies for copyright infringement under the civil law and criminal law. Under the Civil law remedies include: Award of damages, injunction, Account for profit made by the infringer on the infringing Act, conversion rights while criminal remedies include: fine upon conviction, imprisonment upon conviction impoundment of the infringing material and its forfeiture of the infringing work to the copyright owner and destruction of the infringing material.

Obscene and Harmful Publications Law

The Obscene and harmful publication laws prohibit the publication of obscene and harmful literatures, and acts that are likely to destroy the morality of the public. Criminal law is the main law that prohibits immoral acts, obscene and harmful publications. The Criminal Code Act and laws under sections 214 -233 (a) prohibits various offences against morality, whilst sections 233(b) -(f) specifically prohibits obscene publications and articles . This apart, the Penal Code, the Children and Young Persons Laws, the Constitution, and so forth also prohibit obscene and harmful publications.

Law of Contempt

Sections 133 and 6 of the Criminal Code and section 155 of the Penal Code Law Cap 89 Northern Nigeria 1963 respectively provides for the law of contempt, prohibit acts of disrespect and disobedience to court, including publications which are disrespectful or are aimed at damaging or destroying the maintenance of the authority or the independence of the courts.

Contempt in the face of court is an offence punishable by a judge suo motu, that is, immediately on its own, under the inherent powers of a court under the English common law. The Constitution has also made provision for the punishment of contempt of court in sections 6(6) (a) and 39 (b) respectively. On the other hand, the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges Act provides for contempt of parliament and at the application of the relevant parliament such contemnor is usually prosecuted in court, and if found guilty is sanctioned accordingly.

Official Secrets Act

The Official Secrets Act prohibits the publication of classified or confidential information and matters relating to defence establishments, security installations and other protected places in Nigeria. Additionally, section 97 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits the disclosure of official secrets and the abstraction of confidential documents.

Cybercrimes Law

Cybercrime is a type of crime that takes place in cyberspace, or in the realm of computers and the Internet.

The Nigerian society is evolving into an information society, hence there are legal safeguards to protect the interest of all those within the cyberspace.

Intellectual property, contract, jurisdiction, data protection laws, privacy, and freedom of expression are all covered by cyber law.

“The cybercrimes (prevention and prohibition) Act, 2015” has a significant impact on cyber law in Nigeria.

It ensures protection for all data and property of individuals, organizations, and Government

Cyber laws protect a user’s personal information. Numerous threats exist in the digital world; cyber laws aid in the confidentiality and protection of personal and sensitive information communicated over the internet. Continued in part 3.


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