By C.H Aluma
Stalking according to Black law Dictionary tenth edition, is an offense of following or loitering near another, often surreptitiously, to annoy or harass that person or to commit a further crime such as assault or battering. Some statutory definitions include an element that the person being stalked must reasonably feel harassed, alarmed, or distressed about personal safety of the safety or one or more persons for whole that person is responsible.
Stalking can also be in form of an unwanted and repeated monitoring by an individual or group towards another. It is a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment made against the expressed wishes of another individual, which causes the individual to feel emotional distress including fear intimidation or apprehension. The term stalker was initially used by media in the 20th century to describe people who pester and harass others, initially with specific reference to the harassment of celebrities by strangers who were described as obsessed.
Although stalking is illegal in most areas of the world, some of the actions that contribute to stalking may be legal, such as gathering information, calling someone on the phone, texting, sending gifts, emailing or instant messaging. They become illegal when they breach the legal definition of harassment e.g. an action such as sending of flower is not illegal but becomes illegal when frequently repeated to an unwilling recipient.
Stalkers may attempt to woo their victims into a relationship by sending flowers, candy and love letters, in an attempt to prove their love. However, when the victims decline their advances, the stalker often at times resorts to violence.
Stalking has been domesticated in Nigeria law as a crime by virtue of the enactment of Violence against Persons Prohibition Act. Therefore, it is a crime to stalk someone in Nigeria.
Section 17(1) of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA) provides that stalking on conviction is punishable with imprisonment of not more than two years and or fine of N500,000.
Section 17(2) VAPPA provides that a person who attempts to commit the act commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonments not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.
Section 17(3) of the Act provides that a person who incites, aids, abets, or counsels another person to commit the act of violence as provides for in Section 17(1)commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonments not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both
Section 17(4) provides for a person who receives or assisted another who, to his or her knowledge, committed the offense of stalking is an accessory after the fact and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonments not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both.
Therefore, the law frowns at the crime of stalking and punishes anyone who engages in that as a deterrent to other defaulters. But such punishment can only be administered if such a suspected is found guilty of such crime by a court of competent jurisdiction.