Blogger and Former Sterling Bank Employee Land in Ikoyi Prison for ‘Whistleblowing’
A blogger, Fejiro Oliver and a former Sterling Bank employee, Dennis Ukpabi were on Friday, arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged cyber-stalking.
Ukpabi and Oliver pleaded not guilty to a five-count charge bordering on cyber-stalking which is prohibited by Section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention etc) Act, 2015.
The former Sterling Bank employee was said to have published a book titled ‘The Whistleblower’ in which he accused some employees of the bank – Adekanla Desalu, Eguru Nyenke, Janet Akpan and Kojusola Ajao – of fraud.
In his book, Ukpabi further accused an executive director at the bank of sexual exploitation. He claimed one of his former colleagues accused of fraud was promoted because she was dating the executive director.
The first count of the charge against the accused persons read: “That you Dennis Ukpabi and Tega Oghenero between 1st – 13th February, 2017 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of Federal High Court, conspired together to commit felonies, namely, knowingly and intentionally sending intimidated, hatred, insulting and needless anxiety messages and thereby committing an offence punishable under section 27 (1) (b) of Cybercrime (prohibition, prevention etc Act 2015).”
Another charge stated that Ukpabi and Oliver sent offensive messages to Desalu, Busola Awosile, Nyenke and Adeyemi Odubiyi, an act punishable under section 24 (1) (b) of Cybercrime Act.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris thereafter granted the request of the prosecution counsel, Mr J. Oloruntoba, and remanded the two suspects at the Ikoyi prison.
In legal circles, cyber-stalking is regarded as one of the most problematic provisions of the Cybercrime Act signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan as it is open to a wide interpretation and abuse by law enforcement agents at the behest of influential individuals.
All accusations published on the internet may be challenged as false by the persons affected by such claims but it may take a proper trial by the court to establish whether a claim is false or not.
During that time however, an individual may be arrested and prosecuted for sharing that information. The punishment to be imposed upon conviction is a fine of not more than N7,000,000 (Seven Million Naira) or imprisonment for a term not more than 3 (Three) years or both.