No doubt, I hate cybercrime. If one thing has eaten deep into any little trust that the world had for Nigeria, cybercrime will top any chart. Yahoo! Boys (and Girls), as they are popularly known, spend their time seeking to exploit unsuspecting — and of course, some outrightly greedy — people with the sole aim of robbing them of their hard-earned resources. While I do not understand why some people will respond to (and even act on) most of the eMails that start the chain, I hate the act all the same. If only for its huge cost to Nigeria’s (and by extension, innocent Nigerians’) image, I am moved way beyond emotions to take action!
That explains why, a few years ago, a few friends and I teamed up to start the Nigerian Anti-Scam Network. We held seminars, some members of the team conducted research for relevant agencies and we all pushed the bar in pointing young people towards alternative lifestyles that can allow them redirect their passion (and for some, skills) towards clean online activities. I remember some of our meetings and bow in respect for these young men who went beyond personal career feats to save our generation from what I once referred to (at a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime event) as the new face of crime.
After what I will call the first phase of our work at NAN, the work we started is now wearing a new look — and has some extra administrative and technical support. After a few hours of discussions with Ayo Oladejo, the then coordinator of the network, we decided to review operational strategy and core content of NAN’s work — for increased efficiency and sustainability. Enters NIGHT Force, an effort that is managed by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, which is receiving huge support from stakeholders. Nigerian Internet Governance Hybrid Task (NIGHT) Force hopes to work while it’s dark so that the morning meets us with pleasant smiles. With a focus on Internet Governance issues (including cybercrime) in Africa, NIGHT Force will focus on research, training and stakeholder consultation.
In the past few days, we have held meetings with partners in the media and with Economic & Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) Fix Nigeria Initiative (FNI) staff on the immediate action items that deserve urgent attention. At the meetings, I’m quick to announce that Ayo is the techie while I’m the loudspeaker — doesn’t that make for a great team? Over the next few days, we’ll be doing a TV recording (details of show time will be made known) and preparing for a comprehensive research assignment. I am excited about the opportunity to add to Africa’s knowledge pool on Internet Governance while also defining a few issues around cybercrime. For example, what is the economic cost of cybercrime? What are the things that serve as alternative engagements for some of these kids who are willing to redirect their energy and skills?