The Nigerian Federal Government on Wednesday last week tightened the net on 419ers as it approved sterner measures in a new bill seeking to amend the existing act on the offence. At its weekly meeting in Abuja presided over by Vice- President Atiku Abubakar, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the bill seeking an amendment to the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 1995 to accommodate electronic telecommunications offences.

The bill, which is to be sent to the National Assembly for passage, would compel all Internet service providers (ISPs) and Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) operators to register with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for proper monitoring and supervision.

Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo told State House Correspondents after the meeting that varying prison terms with options of fine awaited all errant cyber cafe and GSM operators and users in the country.Apart from registration, Adebayo disclosed that each ISP and GSM operator would maintain a register of all fixed line customers which shall be made available for inspection by any authorised officer of the commission.

Besides service providers and GSM operators, customers and subscribers, who falsified or declined to give full identities, including addresses, to the providers would be liable to, at least, one year imprisonment or a fine of N100,000.

Similarly, service providers and GSM operators, who failed to comply with the provision demanding the particulars of the subscribers would also be liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 and forfeiture of the equipment or facility used in providing the service.

The bill, the minister said, also stipulates five-year-imprison-ment without an option of fine for any provider of wire or electronic communication service, who failed to register or co-operate with EFCC with returns on the use of his facilities and that “in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine of N50,000 for each day the offence persists.”