The wave of cybercrime (known to an average Nigerian as yahoo-yahoo) has been quite an infamous and unpopular criminal activity in the dawn of the last decade. As at then, it was only a reality that was yet to accrue to itself a great deal of notice, cognizance and attention. This disordered means of generating money for one’s self at the great expense of others (the victims) was on the low side. Hardly was it heard of that youngsters ventured into dubious activities that compromised socioeconomic values and principles in order to earn a living. This has however, taken a different turn in the recent past years.
In the past three to four years, there has been a strange upsurge of cybercrime, with young Nigerians who are supposedly, leaders of tomorrow, occupying a position of front line perpetrators of the heinous crime. The crave for easily acquired wealth and fame showcased by these people has sky-rocketed far beyond the ordinary. And this era of tremendous advancement in science and technology has provided a fertile ground for the seeds of cybercrime to sprout and blossom fruitfully as the means for carrying out this criminal activity is cyber based. Instead of striving to dismiss the corruption appellation earned by our country in the international space (courtesy of high level of obvious corrupt practices in the economic and political system), some citizens have just succeeded in heightening the level of disregard we are already grappling with, thus bringing the Nigerian federation to a state of intra and inter-national disrepute.
Just last month, two Nigerian kingpins and cohorts were arrested in the Arab city of Dubai for allegedly committing crimes like money laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonation, banking fraud and identity theft. A 38 year-old Lagos born man, Ramon Abbas popularly known as “Hushpuppi” and Olalekan Jacob Ponle popularly known as “Woodbery”; were evidently accused of defrauding a mouth watering number of over 1.9 million people through well organized transnational cybercrime. The surprising number of their victims equals the population of a whole country. The fruits of their activities are spent in such an outlandish manner, such that it arouses an unregulated and undue yearn for wealth and reputation in their fellow young Nigerian citizens back at home. It indeed takes a great level of intelligence, wittiness and shrewdness to plan and successfully undertake such criminal escapade.
If this intelligence has been channeled to a more prudent and noble enterprise, the results would have been magnificently productive. Pitiably, the investigative operation that brought them down was tagged “Fox Hunt”. Indeed, these two and many others have thwarted the prudent use of God-given intelligence and talent, and embraced the cunningness and shrewdness of foxes. Through cybercrime, amongst many other crimes, God’s gift of intelligence and talent is being abused and grossly misused. Whatever gift we have has been given to us by God and as such should be used for our good and that of our fellowmen to the greater glory of God, and not the other way round. One can only but imagine the level of financial downturn and poverty that the activities of these cybercriminals have thrown their victims into.
Many, barely find it easy to survive, yet the little they live on is being dubiously deprived of them. The selfish activities of few persons have put millions of people into miserable conditions. They have been left financially handicapped and incapacitated, and in serious cases psychologically crippled, traumatized and many dead. This is therefore a clarion call; first to the Nigerian youths to shun all criminal activities especially cybercrime. We should learn to use the internet and our computers for legally approved, profit making activities and other laudable and commendable activities, not to perpetrate fraudulent practices. Our desires should be censored and controlled, so as not to get led into crime.
Secondly, we strongly advise that the Nigerian government should provide job opportunities for the youths and means of gainful employment so that they don’t have to consider or harbor the thought of crime, let alone bringing it to actualization. Also, cyber security agencies and anti-cybercrime policies and laws should be put in place so as to forestall and control cybercriminal activities that will most likely bring opprobrium upon the nation. Greater sanctions should be meted out to perpetrators in order to deter others from towing that path.