DSS has powers to prosecute cyberstalking – Judge rules

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By Don Silas

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Friday dismissed a preliminary objection filed by a defence counsel challenging the prosecution powers of the Department of State Security (DSS) to prosecute cybercrimes.

On October 18, 2021, the DSS arraigned a teenager before the court on a charge of cyberstalking.

The defendant, according to the prosecution, allegedly engaged in cyberstalking by circulating the nude picture of a retired Permanent Secretary on social media after she tried to blackmail the retiree into paying her N15 million.

Counsel to the teenage girl, Mr Andrew Arthur, had filed a Notice of Objection challenging the powers of DSS to investigate and prosecute the charge filed against the defendant.

Delivering a ruling, Justice Isa Dashen said that he had carefully gotten through the arguments and judicial authorities cited by defence and prosecution counsels to arrive at his decision.

“I have carefully considered the submissions of counsel on both sides and the cases they cited, and I understand them. I disagree with the defence that DSS lacks the power to prosecute cybercrimes.

“Under the Cybercrimes Prevention and Prohibition Act 2015, the DSS is a relevant security Agency and has the competence to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes.

“The DSS has competently investigated this case, and prosecuting counsel for DSS, Victor Uchendu, has the powers of prosecution, and I dismiss the Notice of Preliminary Objection.

“The case is hereby adjourned until September 28,” Justice Dashen said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the retired permanent secretary, now deceased, who is a witness for the DSS following a petition he submitted in his testimony, told the court in his testimony that the teenager made a nude video of him when they had sex at a hotel in Yenagoa in August 2021.

The retired permanent secretary died in November 2022.

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