Image credit: connectnigeria.com
Hey everyone, I’m pretty sure we have heard of the movie called Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons, a movie about a group of modern day hackers who make it their mission to steal from Nigeria’s corrupt elite and give back to the poor. Here, Ramsey Nouah (as Ayo Alesinloye) plays the Nigerian Robin Hood, leading his pack to defraud bank accounts of corrupt people and then donate the money to a charity, along with his team members, Falz (as Remi Martins ), Jim Iyke (Naz Okigbo) and AY the Comedian (as Amaju Abioritsegbemi).
Filled with so many comical scenes as well as some praise worthy action scenes, this movie is quite enjoyable, but not only that, it presents an apposite canvass to paint in detail certain crimes prohibited under Nigerian Law. These crimes include hacking (cybercrime), conspiracy, receiving stolen property, accessary after the fact and so many others.
We see a scene in the movie, where Falz The Badguy acting as Remi Martins is hacking into the account of a bank.
According to cyberlaws.com, computer hacking refers to the practice of modifying or altering computer software and hardware to accomplish a goal that is considered to be outside of the creator’s original objective. Now, thelawdictionary.com defines hacking to include altering, stealing, or taking, which are all forbidden under Nigerian Law.
The Nigerian Communications Commision defines cybercrime as a systematic and intentional use of technical skills that involves information and communication knowledge to illegally hack and have access to scribed or coded information by interception of data through unauthorised damaging, manipulation or distortion, diversion, hijacking, retrieving, deletion, deterioration, alteration or suppression, inputting, transmitting, deleting, forgery or theft of computer data or information and transactions.
I love this last definition because it is so detailed, and we therefore know how to check whether our computer/online activities constitute computer hacking or not.
Cybercrimes under the act are varied and will constitute multiple counts. I can manifestly identify the following counts: below:
A. COMPUTER RELATED FRAUD
Section 14 of the Cybercrimes Act highlights the offence of computer related fraud as follows:
‘Any person who knowingly without authority or in excess of authority causes any loss of property to another by altering, erasing, inputting or suppressing any data held in any computer, whether or not for the purpose of conferring any economic benefits on himself or another person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 years or to a fine of not less than 7,000,000.00 or both fine and imprisonment.’
In this case, Falz’s character altered data for the economic benefits of the Merry Men, because the money was going directly into their accounts. The law does not exactly care that the Merry Men plan to donate the money to a charity. That fact may be described as slightly immaterial.
B. UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO A COMPUTER
Section 6 of the Cybercrimes Act says, ‘Any person, who without authorization, intentionally accesses in whole or in part, a computer system or network for fraudulent purposes and obtains data that are vital to national security, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than 5 years or to a fine of not more than N5,000,000.00 or to both fine and imprisonment.’
In this case, Falz’s character altered data on a banking system used by numerous customers which constitute a section of the Nigerian population. That is definitely data vital to national security, depending on the systemic risk that this bank carries if it ever collapses. This particular section does not specify if it is your own personal computer, the computer of the company you want to hack from or a cybercafé. So whichever way, you are still guilty of a fraudulent activity.
C. IMPORTATION AND FABRICATION OF E-TOOLS
Falz’s character may have imported or fabricated the software he used to hack into the fictional bank in the movie. Under the Cybercrimes Act, it is an offence to possess any tool a perpetrator uses with intent to commit a hacking offence , eg a computer software/ program, a computer password, access code or similar data by which a computer system or network is capable of being accessed for the purpose of committing an offence under the Act.
Maximum penalty: imprisonment for a term of not more than two years or a fine of not more than N5,000,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment.
D. ONLINE FRAUD USING A CYBERCAFÉ
Now, assuming that Falz’s character perpetrated his fraud from a cybercafé, Section 7(2) of the Cybercrimes Act provides that, ‘ Any person, who perpetrates electronic fraud or online fraud using a cybercafé, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be sentenced to Three Years imprisonment or a fine of One Million Naira or both.’
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE CRIME WAS COMMITTED ABROAD?
If this crime was perpetrated outside of Nigeria, the Cyber Crimes Act provides that Nigerian courts still have jurisdiction regardless of the location where the fraud was committed, so long as it constitutes any of the offences highlighted under the Cybercrimes Act.
Falz’s character’s one act of fraud could also be seen as intercepting non-public transmissions of computer data.
Section 12(1) of the same Act also provides that ‘Any person, who intentionally and without authorization, intercepts by technical means, non-public transmissions of computer data, content, or traffic data, including electromagnetic emissions or signals from a computer, computer system or network carrying or emitting signals, to or from a computer, computer system or connected system or network; commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than 2 years or to a fine of not more than N5,000,000.00 or to both such fine and imprisonment.’
Falz’s character’s act has intercepted non-public transmissions of computer data
The Cybercrimes Act also provides for another offence which has to do with the modification of data held in a computer system. Thus, Falz’s character’s act is not only hacking, but carrying out interception as well as modification.
According to section 16(1), Any person who with intent and without lawful authority directly or indirectly modifies or causes modification of any data held in any computer system or network, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or to a fine of not more than N7, 000,000.00 or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Everyone of the crimes Falz’s character commits is not only committed by him, but is actually committed by all 4 characters played by Ramsey, Jim Iyk and AY the Comedian because of the law of conspiracy. Under Section 8 of the Criminal Code, ‘When two or more persons form a common intention to prosecute an unlawful purpose in conjunction with one another, and in the prosecution of such purpose an offence is committed of such a nature that its commission was a probable consequence of the prosecution of such purpose, each of them is deemed to have committed the offense’.
3. RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
In the movie, we also see that Falz ‘s character transfers some of the hacked money to Osas Ighodaro Ajibade’s characters account. I would argue that this is constitutes receiving stolen property, since the Cybercrimes Act recognises the fact that internet fraud can cause loss of property.
4. ACCESSARY AFTER THE FACT
We also see Damilola Adegbite’s character interfering with investigations and covering up a crime. This is also a crime under the Criminal Code as she has knowledge of the Merry Men’s offences and she assists them in order to escape punishment.
Fun Fact: Did you know that land cannot be stolen?
- The Criminal Code