Cybercrime: Challenge of the Nigerian youth in the digital age, By Rotimi Onadipe

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Cybercrime is a crime perpetrated through electronic communication network, particularly the internet. This menace is very rampant among youths within the age of 14 to 21 and it has done incalculable damage to the image of Nigeria. Cybercrime can be perpetrated through many ways e.g. phone calls, internet calls, sending of scam emails containing “get rich quick” proposals to entice unsuspecting victims, etc.

The most common type of cybercrime is perpetrated through email. In most cases, it comes in form of marriage proposal, unclaimed fund, donation, lottery, help, bonanza, bank transaction notification or credit alert etc. Some of the youths send as many as 20,000 of such scam emails everyday while others send more to increase their chance of getting their targets.

Youths are proverbially referred to as leaders of tomorrow but how can they be true leaders when they engage in various  types of cyber crime at their early age?

It is very sad family members of most cyber criminals are very happy with their illegal activities. Due to the economic situation of the country, most parents of cyber criminals pretend as if nothing is wrong with what their children are doing because of the benefits they derive from their ill-gotten wealth. Their excuse is that the high rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria lead their children into the illegal activities.

Some parents invite clerics, family members and neighbours to celebrate with them and hold special prayer sessions for their children who have made huge sums of money through internet fraud. Others go further to prepare charms for their children so as to escape justice if they get arrested or they are taken to court for trial. Some parents even justify the unlawful acts by saying “they are reaping the fruits of parent-hood”. 

This menace has done incalculable damage to the image of Nigeria and many countries around the world. A study by a research organisation discovered that Nigerian scams cost the British economy at least £150m a year. The fact of this matter is that the cost to society goes beyond just losing money. Some victims had attempted suicide, many homes have broken and a lot of businesses ruined.

Further findings also revealed that some countries lose at least $36m a year to Nigerian scammers. Another research by Cybersecurity Ventures states that cybercrime will cost the global economy $6.1 trillion annually by 2021.

However, cyber crime is not limited to men, some ladies are also into the illegal act. They usually start by sending their nude pictures to unsuspecting victims after which they develop this to Advance Fee Fraud, all in the name of unemployment and poverty.

The mind-boggling question: Is cyber crime the solution to unemployment and poverty in Nigeria? The answer is of course “NO.”

 Here are some safety tips that we can adopt to reduce cybercrime among Nigerian youths in today’s digital age:

1. We should all have a total change of heart by having the fear of God in our heart and believing that one day we will meet our creator to give account of how we spent our life.

2. Religious and non-governmental organisations should always organise programmes to sensitise the youths and the society at large on the need to have the fear of God in their heart.

3. Parents should not indulge their children who come home with different items they did not procure for them. They should investigate how they got the items.

4. Parents should always pray for their children and counsel them to be contented with what they have.

5. Government and non-governmental organisations should encourage the youths in their talents through skill acquisition programmes.

6. Nigerian youths should be optimistic about the situation of the country. They should shun the belief that “Nigeria can never get better”.

7. Government should address the problems of poverty and unemployment by creating more jobs and providing soft loans to unemployed youths.

8. The youths should also realise that cyber crime has repercussion which could destroy their future.

9. Government and non-governmental organisations should always create  awareness campaigns at all levels to sensitise the entire public on the dangers attributed to cyber crime and the preventive measures.

10. The sim card registration programme set up by the National Communication Commission (NCC) had really helped a lot in reducing the rate of cyber crime in Nigeria. More programs of this nature should be introduced by the government.

Onadipe can be reached via email: [email protected]