A Few Thoughts Ago…

A few thoughts ago, we decided it was time to intervene…

Cybercrime is a major issue in the world today, but its a bigger issue for young Nigerians. That is not unconnected to the fact that many people would be quick to argue that young Nigerians form the majority of cyber-criminals. And to make the case worse, young Nigerians are also the majority shareholders when it comes to the receiving end of the negative effects of cybercrime… ranging from perception to proven cases, cybercrime is a major threat to the average young Nigerian’s life — not to talk of the nation’s image, and economic growth. These, and many other thoughts, influenced our decision to team up for the urgent task.

The Nigerian Anti-Scam Network (“NAN” and formerly referred to as Naija vs Scam Network and the Informal Working Group on Cybercrime), is non-profit, multidisciplinary, independent and youth-led. We have taken a first step through the development of a 100% anti-scam portal, www.cybercrime.org.ng, and will work together with other actors (government agencies, civil society organisations, research institutions, media, professional organisations, private organisations, and special interest groups) towards the vision of a new nation where our youth shun online vices and embrace other alternative ways that can enhance their economic profile without compromising integrity and the common good.

A few hours ago, we hosted a seminar at the Lagos Digital Village with the theme, “Unearthing the Mysteries of Cybercrime”. It was interesting experience as we dug deeper into the issue of cybercrime; discussed possible alternatives for youth who seek convenience and wealth online; considered possible action to ensure sustained phase-out of cybercrime; and were updated on the actions being taken by the Federal Government through the National Cybersecurity Initiative.

Anchored by Deolu Ashaye, and with opening remarks by Tope Soremi, we began with a discussion on the possibility of combatting/ending cybercrime. With the views still floating around the room from all ends, Basil Udotai (Coordinator, National Cybercrime Working Group) treated participants to an in-depth discussion on “National Cybersecurity Initiative (NCI): Measures to Secure Nigeria’s ‘Cyberspace’ for Economic Development & Growth“. It was an enlightening session and its refreshing to note that the Nigerian Computer Security and Protection Act may soon be passed into law. Egbon Shina Badaru was next, and his story drove home the message that each person is left with options, and the individual’s choice will matter at the end of the day.

I was next on the panel, and my presentation was on Capacity for Combat. I chose to dwell on the need for young people to build capacity, not only to prevent their involvement in cybercrime as a criminal or victim, but also to build an enviable life — especially noting how most young people have a false sense of mentorship in Nigeria today. Ayo Oladejo (Team Leader, Nigerian Anti-Scam Network) completed the string of discussions with his presentation on Youths and Cybercrime. He dug into the present trends and also emphasized the need for alternatives.

The meeting comes as first in the series of interventions that will come from the basket of Nigerian Anti-Scam Network’s intervention in this space. I believe that this effort, along with that of others, would eventually help Nigeria reclaim her integrity in the minds of men and women across the globe who think “419” or “cybercrime” when they discuss young Nigerians. There are tons of young Nigerians helping to shape their lives, that of their nation and even other nations… and this majority cannot continue to pay for the sins of the minority who team up with their likes all over the world to engage in cybercrime.

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