Nigeria: Cyber Crime - Time to Stop County's Dominance
Suleiman Muhammad Odapu
6 September 2008
Nigeria ranks third among the cyber crime committing countries in the world, according to a 2007 internet crime report released by the Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3), which puts the country alongside the US, UK and Romania among the top ten countries where internet crimes are perpetrated.
According to the report, in the US alone, "Nigerian letter fraud" (E mail scams emanating from Nigeria) constituted 1.1 per cent of the 2007 top IC3 Complaint Categories received. The report also revealed that the amount lost by individuals reporting fraud-type monetary loss in 2007 puts Nigerian Letter Fraud at 6.4 percent, amounting to 1,922.99 million US dollars.
IC3 noted that although Nigeria is in the top ten countries where internet crime is perpetrated, the country is, ironically, not among the first ten nations that complain to the IC3.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in its banking sector supervision report revealed that the banking sector lost 7.2 billion naira to internet fraud. However, the Chief Executive Officer of Global Network for Cyber Solution, Mr. Segun Olugbile, believes the amount is in the region of N10billion.
In the international scene, Robert L. Mallet, former US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, said that the US was giving more to Nigeria, yet losing more to Nigerians due to cyber crime.
"U.S. citizens lose approximately $2 billion ($2,000 million) a year to Nigerian fraud, be it credit card fraud, insurance fraud, or 419 scam letters, or counterfeiting," he complained. This amount, according to observers, totals about two-and-a-half times the value of total U.S. exports to Nigeria.
Investigations by Weekly Trust reveal that Lagos, which is regarded as the "hot spot" of this appalling cyber trade, is yet to show any downward trend in the perpetration of the crime, despite efforts by the law enforcement agencies at track and arresting the teeming cyber fraudsters there.
Weekly Trust reports from Lagos say overnight browsing still booms in the city, despite EFCC's ban and that the law is relaxed against the trend, but the spokesperson of the economic crimes watchdog, Femi Babafemi, in a recent reaction, said that the commission was up and doing in that regard.
He stated that the commission had carried out over 28 raids on cyber cafés since the new anti-graft agency's boss, Mrs. Farida Waziri, assumed duty, with 136 suspects arrested, explaining, "We arrested 60 suspects in the Southwest, 39 in the Southeast, 26 from the South-South and 11 in the North."
He told Weekly Trust that the officials of the anti-graft body undergo regular training to equip them with the skills to curb cyber crime, insisting that the commission is competent to handle cyber criminality.
While efforts are geared towards curbing cyber crimes, the perpetrators are fashioning out new ways of outwitting the law enforcement agents to sap their victims of their hard-earned cash, sufficiently shielded from the law.
Weekly Trust investigations in Lagos reveal that the "yahoo yahoo boys" have now crafted new tactics, enabling them to take advantage of internet services provided by Fixed Telephone Companies like Starcomms, Zoom mobile, Visafone and Muiltlinks to perpetrate the crime right in the comfort of their sitting rooms, away from the prying eyes of the EFCC.
However, according to Femi Babafemi, the EFCC, in partnership with some experts, is developing software that could be used to monitor internet usage in the country with the particular aim of tracking and arresting internet fraudsters.
A recent stakeholders conference on cyber crime and cyber security issued a communiqué calling for a legislation on cyber crime, the establishment of Cyber Crime Reporting and Response Centre, Cyber Security Training Centre, Cyber Police and Forensic Commission and National Institute of Cyber Space Infrastructure Protection for Nigeria to battle the cyber menace.
Experts have argued that fighting cyber crime without any relevant legislation would lead to nowhere, arguing further that most anti-crime laws do not accommodate cyber crime, thereby making the crime difficult to be curtailed by the existing laws.
Against this background, some members of the House of Representatives, under the banner of the Certified Anti Money Laundry Specialists (CAMLSC), recently organized an interactive dialogue on Innovative Strategies to Combat Money Laundry and Cyber Crimes in Nigeria.
Speaking at the dialogue, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji. Bankole, decried that recent anti corruption crusade had been focusing on individuals, neglecting the channels in which the corruption was taking place. He restated the legislators' commitment to fighting all forms of corruption, including cyber crimes.
Stakeholders in the Banking and Information and Technology sector also hold that unless concerted efforts are made, Nigeria will remain a leading nation in cyber crime.