New Telegraph

Dealing Decisively With Cybercrimes

With Nigeria ranked fifth in the world, behind Russia, Ukraine, China and the United States as well as being the leading African country with the highest number of cyber threats over the past decade, as noted by Kaspersky, a leading cyber security firm, as at April, 2024, there is need for genuine efforts to be made to reverse the ugly trend, before it gets worse.

The World Cybercrime Index (WCI) has similarly noted the paradigm of the increased rate of cybercrime in the country. It is indeed worrisome that the United Kingdom (UK), has also raised alarm recently, that Nigeria loses a whopping sum of about $500 million yearly to the menace.

That finding is in line with the report by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC). The British government has therefore put measures in place to drastically reduce cybercrimes. So far, the focus is specifically on Lagos, Edo and Bayelsa states.

Its intervention is aimed at safeguarding individuals, families and communities against all manner of social ills that have cumulatively snowballed into increased crimes by the youth. According to Ahmad Jumere, one of the programme managers engaged in the intervention the consequences include both financial losses and compromised online safety.

But that brings to the public sphere the all important question of what cybercrimes are all about. The answers are no longer far-fetched. Any criminal activity that involves the use of a computer, network or networked device is considered a cybercrime.

So also are those carried out against computers or devices with the ignoble aim to directly damage or disable them. Acts such as hacking, identity theft, cyber terrorism, harassment and internet fraud are similarly listed. The source of concern is the active engagement of Nigerian youth, especially some ill advised students in the acts of cybercrimes.

In fact, seven out of 10 Nigerian students, more so those in tertiary institutions, are allegedly involved in one form of it or the other. That is according to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede. Alarming as his position might sound, not a few of them have been caught in hacking, unauthorised and illegal access to bank accounts and reading of emails, identity theft, phishing and spoofing.

This valid position comes from the fact that every criminal – be he a terrorist, bandit, cultist, kidnapper or internet fraudster – comes from one home or the other

Others include desktop counterfeiting, pornography, cyber harassment, and fraudulent conversion of property, chat room conspiracy and sending computer viruses. But the EFCC has been on their trail. For instance, on November 1, 2023 some 69 students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife were picked up by the agency in a midnight raid.

Similarly, on December 27, of the same year, 23 students of the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto were arrested in a pre-dawn raid as internet fraudsters by operatives of the EFCC. And on February 27, 2024 operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the same agency arrested 48 students of the Kwara State University (KWASU) over alleged offences bordering on internet fraud.

Although some of those so arrested have headed to the court to defend their innocence, according to a human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, there is no denying the fact that the involvement of the nation’s future leaders, especially in cybercrimes spells doom for the country. Meaningful and pragmatic interventions are therefore, urgently needed.

That should begin of course, from the family unit that has apparently broken down across many states in the country. This valid position comes from the fact that every criminal – be he a terrorist, bandit, cultist, kidnapper or internet fraudster – comes from one home or the other.

If the parents have played their part in inculcating strong moral values in their children, right from childhood, perhaps the Nigerian society would have been saved from the atrocities many of them have committed. But with the social dynamics of such children attending schools and religious institutions, school proprietors, principals, teachers as well as pastors and Islamic clerics should take up the challenge of impacting moral values on our younger Nigerians.

So should the non governmental organisations (NGOs). Amongst those that have been making the desired difference on the youth are ‘Cancel Cult’ as launched in Edo and Bayelsa states, in addition to ‘Better Future Programme’ that has made significant strides in transforming the lives of the young ones that have fallen into the traps of cultism and terrorism.

Similar steps are taken, even by the EFCC to curb the rise in cybercrimes. A holistic approach by both state and non-state actors will go a long way towards curbing all manner of crimes that have taken the attention of young Nigerians, without considering the dire consequences.

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