On the 23rd of August, 2019, one of the largest cybercrimes in the history of the world was experienced in the United States of America. Sadly, the United States authorities revealed that the cybercriminals arrested were mostly Nigerians for being illegally involved in wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation to the ensuing sum of Forty-Six million dollars ($46,000,000) from the internet. Coupled with additional implications on the already battered image of Nigeria, this event brought in its wake negative consequences on the Nigerian economy with the ilk of several companies withdrawing their intentions to establish multi-billion Naira project in Nigeria among other effects.
The issue of cybercrime has attained the status of notoriety among the Nigerian youth. No doubt, Nigeria has different laws in place for the purpose of combating cybercrime; however, realities have shown the folly embedded in the system. This increasing issue of cybercrime has questioned the effectiveness of Nigerian legislative framework on this matter. Therefore, in this essay, attempt will be made to critically analyse the topic while also proffering recommendations that will be of assistance in combating the surge cybercrime in Nigeria.
CYBERCRIME AND THE NIGERIAN YOUTH
Just like most concepts, cybercrime defies a univocal definition; however, it is generally regarded as an illegal activity carried out through the means of a computer which can be hacking, phishing, spamming, child and drug trafficking, intellectual property, stealing identities or violating privacy. Youth refers to persons between the ages of 15 and 24. According to Federal Republic of Nigeria, youth ranges from age 18 -35 years.
A scholar, Salkowitz identifies three forces driving the world in this present age to include the youth, ICT and entrepreneurship, both generating impact and driving the global economy in new directions and at high velocity.
Nigerian youths have been noted to be creative, hardworking among other good attributes. However, it is sad that in this current Nigeria, one cannot boldly make that same assertion. At the risk of hasty generalisation, therefore, today, one can say that out of ten Nigerian youths, five will be ‘cyberhustlers’. Cases of cybercrime commonly referred to as ‘Yahoo” are replete in our Courts.
The insatiable need for survival has resulted into a tremendous increasing participation of Nigerian youths in cybercrime. This high level of fraud has increased the frontiers of Nigeria to being the most internet fraudulent country in Africa while occupying the third largest jurisdiction after China and United States of America where the world records the highest number of cybercrimes.
These fraudulent activities have posed greater threats to Nigeria, particularly in the socio-economic development arena. With these events, one is posed to question the motivating factors responsible for this criminal attitude. Without much ado, the analysis carried out by a student of Caritas University, revealed the prominent motivating factors of cybercrime in Nigeria in this manner.
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THE EFFECTS OF CYBERCRIME IN NIGERIA
The effects of cybercrime cannot be captured comprehensively; however, a vice will always remain a vice with its overwhelming consequences. The corruption of the mind of the youth which is the best resource any nation can ever utilise for its growth is tremendously alarming and this has been affecting Nigeria in term of development. The followings effects are deduced from cybercrime:
- Nigerian Image:
The image of a country is its name, and name is the most valuable element one ever possesses. When one is robed of his name, one is robed of something great indeed. Suffice to say that cybercrime is a global phenomenon which affects countries that engage in it; however, Nigeria suffers the worse of its consequences. Coupled with the institutionalised issue of corruption in Nigeria, the attendant effects of cybercrime have further worsened the perception and international reputation of Nigeria. This tells a great agony on its foreign affairs in all ramifications.
- Economic Retrogression:
Cybercrime causes serious financial effect to the economic sector of Nigeria. Painfully, the high level of cybercrime most times scares away international investors whose investments can contribute enormously to the economic well-being of Nigeria. Internally, one of the core areas of impact of cybercrime on the Nigerian economy is intellectual property (IP) theft, IP theft makes up to at least 25% of cybercrime acts. The Central Bank of Nigeria reveals that Nigeria bank sector lost N 7.2 billion to cyber fraud an amount that can contribute meaningfully to the Economy.
- High Rate of Crime:
The connecting dot between cybercrime and the increasing vices in our society cannot be disputed. The filthy lucre that comes as a result of online fraud has colonized the mentality of some of the Nigerian youths and as such when internet is no more favourable, they take resort to other criminal activities in the form of kidnapping, armed robbery, etc. This is evident in the current Nigeria with exponential increase in criminal activities across the Country.
POSITION OF THE LAW
It becomes imperative at this point to examine the Nigerian legislative framework on cybercrime seriatim:
- Criminal code: The criminal code criminalizes any form of stealing whatsoever, although no explicit provision was made as regards cybercrime, Chapter 38, provides for obtaining property by false pretence, cheating. The renowned provision related to cybercrime is Section 419 while Section 418 gives a definition of what relates to false pretence.
- The cybercrime (Prevention, Prohibition, etc.) Act, 2015: The Act being the first legislation on cybercrime in Nigeria was passed in May, 2015. The Act places responsibility on financial institutions and users it intends to protect.
Part I, specifically Section (1)(a) states the objective of the Act which is to provide for an effective and unified legal, regulatory and international framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.
Similarly, Part III, provides for offences and penalties, few of these offences will be listed below:
Section 5 – Offences against critical national information infrastructure.
Section 6 – Unlawful access to a computer.
Section 9 – Interception of electronic messages, email, electronic money transfers.
Section 13 – Computer related forgery.
Section 14 – Computer related fraud.
Section 15 – Theft of electronics devices.
Section 23 – Child pornography and related offences.
Section 24 – Cyber stalking.
Section 25 – Cyber-squatting.
While Sections 14 – 18 state the offences in the Act, money laundering, etc. no explicit provision for cybercrime was made. However, definition of ‘Economic crime’ given by EFCC includes:
“… the non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed
The Act is related to crimes which have to do with internet scam. It makes provision for the protection and detection of those crimes. The law also makes provision for punishing corporate or individual body that perpetuates illegal internet fraud.
Against these enactments, one golden thread is to be seen, that is the prevalence of cybercrime in our society. The mind-boggling question is, have these laws been effective in curbing cybercrime in Nigeria? This poser cannot be answered in total affirmative. But we do know that the fault is not so much in our laws but in ourselves, in our failure to abide by the dictates of the laws.
- Strong Political Will: While recommendations on employment, poverty, incentives are of general nature and have been over-flogged, having strong political will to implement them becomes necessary for the benefit of all.
- Constant Orientation and engagement of the youth: An idle hand is a devil’s workshop. Nigerian youths need to be constantly engaged with a lot of seminars, entrepreneurship trainings, conferences that can result into enlargement of their minds to positively contribute to their society.
- Institutionalization of cybercrime laws: There is an urgent need for a compartmentalization of the cybercrime laws, with a new independent body saddled with the duty to fight cybercrime. EFCC handles most of cybercrime cases in Nigeria and with already truckload of corruption cases on its neck, it becomes overwhelmed and not too functional.
- Regulation of the internet: While e-commerce traverses across countries, the global community needs to start erecting regulations and methods of confirming genuine transactions to safeguard unsuspecting victims. An app called ‘True Caller’ can identify a ‘scammer’ from a real person. We can also have something like this in e-relationship. Nigeria needs to do more in this regard.
It needs to be stated that one of the impediments against effective implementation of our laws owes to the transnational nature of cybercrime. Often times, most victims are foreigners, which make direct evidence impossible in our Courts in order to successfully grant conviction. The burden of proof needs to be re-adjusted while the Nigerian government in collaboration with international community should work on how to adopt a uniformed international cybercrime law.
 Establishing the arduous qualities embedded in a youth Robert Kennedy stated that “This world demands the qualities of youth, not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease”
 The growth of Nigeria’s economy depends purely on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Flowing from the past few years Nigerian economy has been at a very declining age which has made it not to be possible to foreign investors anymore. The Nigerian economy revealed a total dwindling of $2.3 trillion in investment few years ago. In 2014 and 2015, the investment rate fell from $4.08 trillion to $1.89 trillion respectively. Additionally, the country documented $10.18 trillion from 2013 January to 2015 December