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Are you concerned that using a VPN in Nigeria may be illegal?
It is understandable to have concerns about internet censorship in the country.
I have been in Lagos, Nigeria for 25 years and on several occasions experienced censorship.
The country is known to censor various types of online content, including social media, news websites, and messaging platforms.
Officials are often citing national security concerns as the reason why.
Notably, Nigeria suspended access to Twitter for 7 months for interfering with its internal affairs.
I and other residents couldn’t access both the site and app to stay updated with happenings during that period.
In addition to social media platforms, the Nigerian government blocks access to news websites that it deems critical of the government or its policies.
So, with the rate of this censorship, you should know if using a VPN for any activity is safe.
I got you! This article explains all you should expect if you plan to use a VPN in Nigeria.
Is VPN legal in Nigeria?
Yes, using a VPN is technically legal in Nigeria.
However, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued warnings against the use of VPNs.
The NCC claims that VPNs can compromise national security and people can use it for criminal activities.
Also, it has warned that it can block VPN access if necessary.
However, the government has no explicit laws that impose penalties for using a VPN.
Section 36(12) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution states:
Subject as otherwise provided by this constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offense unless that offense is defined and the penalty thereof, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provision of a law.
From the preceding, VPN usage has not been deemed an offense, therefore, legal in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government is yet to make any specific laws or regulations regarding the use of VPNs as it is in some countries where their use is illegal.
However, it is important to note that certain activities, such as hacking, phishing, and identity theft, are illegal in Nigeria.
Using a VPN for such activities can lead to severe legal consequences, such as fines.
It is also noteworthy that downloading and distributing copyrighted items without permission is illegal with or without a VPN.
Why is it a good idea to use a VPN in Nigeria?
Since using a VPN is legal in Nigeria, it is a great way to protect your online privacy and security.
Additionally, it can give you access to geo-restricted content, such as Netflix US, which is not available in Nigeria.
Here are other reasons to consider:
Improved online security 🔒
As you may know, cybercrime, such as email scams and identity theft, is a growing concern in Nigeria.
Hackers and other malicious actors are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable internet users they can exploit.
For example, let’s say you’re shopping online for a new pair of shoes.
Without a VPN, a cybercriminal could intercept your credit card details as you enter them on the retailer’s website. Especially if you use public WiFi.
But, if you use a VPN, it will encrypt your internet traffic, making it unreadable.
This means the cybercriminal wouldn’t be able to read your credit card details even if they intercepted them.
Therefore, with that, your online activity will be more secure and less likely to be compromised.
Access to geo-restricted content 🌎
Many websites and online services are only available in certain regions.
A VPN enables you to evade these restrictions by substituting your actual IP address with a virtual one belonging to a server in a different location.
It will do this by routing your internet traffic through its server, which then replaces your IP address with its own before sending the traffic to its intended destination.
This is essential when you want to watch foreign movies, TV shows or access other region-specific content.
Enhanced online anonymity and privacy 👻
It is a well-known fact that the Nigerian government tends to apprehend individuals who use the Internet.
However, by masking your IP address, a VPN can help you maintain anonymity and makes it difficult for others to trace your online activities back to you.
This is particularly useful if you want to access sensitive information or engage in political activism without fear of someone tracking or monitoring you.
Bypassing censorship ⛔
While internet censorship is not widespread in Nigeria, there have been instances where the government has attempted to restrict access to certain websites and online services.
For example, it suspended Twitter in June 2021 due to its concerns over the platform’s role in spreading fake news and inciting violence.
Also, it briefly blocked Reddit in October 2020 after people used it to share information about the #EndSARS protests against police brutality.
The Nigerian government has also announced plans to regulate social media platforms, including Telegram, citing concerns over misinformation and fake news.
In addition, the Central Bank of Nigeria warned against transacting in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in 2017, which made it more challenging for Nigerians to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
However, as a Nigerian resident, I was able to use a VPN to bypass these restrictions and access the internet freely during those periods.
VPNs are legal in Nigeria and you need them if you want online freedom.
Additionally, the government has warned against the use of VPNs and can block access to them, although they currently don’t have the intention.
However, choosing a reliable and trustworthy VPN provider and server location is important to ensure privacy and security while using the internet in Nigeria.