By Olabisi Olaleye and Christy Dada
President Muhammadu Buhari’s election promise to give corruption a ‘bloody eye’ suffered a huge setback recently, when the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission,(NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, revealed Nigeria placed 3rd after the United Kingdom and the United States of America, in the latest global internet crime ranking.
The NCC boss who spoke at the 2017 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos with the theme, “African Business: Penetrating through Institution Building” regretted that although the number of internet users in Nigeria had risen to about 91.6 million during the period, a whopping N127 billion was also estimated to have been lost to cybercrime in the country in 2015.
Dambatta who saw this development as one critical factor militating against Africa’s economic resurgence, called for urgent action to stem its tide.
But while he may not be the only Nigerian stakeholder worried about this unpleasant development, it was a different story entirely for the banking industry which lost a total of N2.19 billion to fraudsters through electronic channels in 2016.
The Deputy Governor, Operations, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adebayo Adelabu, who gave out this figure at the first stakeholders’ workshop on cybercrime organised by the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum with the theme: “Tackling Enforcement Challenges under the Cybercrime Act,” said that 19,531 fraud cases were reported by the industry in 2016 as against 10,743 recorded in 2015.
A breakdown of the actual amount lost showed that across- the-counter transactions, with a total of N511.07 million, accounted for the highest losses. This was followed by Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions with N464.5 million; internet banking, N320.66 million; Point of- Sale, (POS) transactions, N243.32 million and mobile banking transactions, N235.17 million among others.
Adelabu who bemoaned the challenges faced by the regulators while enforcing the Cybercrime Act of 2015 called for a review of the Act to minimise the losses suffered by the banking community.
“It is now about two years into the commencement of the Act, and so it is not too early to conduct a holistic review of its implementation. There should be a careful examination of the extent to which the obligations placed by the Act are fulfilled, and the general assessment of any challenges experienced in compliance with the provisions of the Act.
Also, speaking at the forum,a representative of the National Security Adviser, (NSA), Sheriff Lawal, assured the Federal Government will not be deter in its resolve to enforce the relevant laws in dealing with perpetrators of cybercrime
“Though the law has challenges, we must work hard to protect our ICT infrastructure. We are all connected to the cyberspace for different reasons but we all need to stay safe and secure,” he noted.
These revelations lay credence to the current ranking of Nigeria as the third globally in cybercrimes behind the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (US).
“Nigeria ranks 169 out of 199 on the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings; we are in a middle of a revolution and the rise of what we call the networked society. The NCC stipulates the laws of engagement that will make the cyberspace safe and ensure the confidence as well as the safety of the cyberspace.
“There are benefits and risks of the use of cyberspace and both have to be properly managed.” Danbatta, who was also a panelist at the conference, said.
In her contributions, the Associate Solicitor of LLP, a UK-based law firm, Ms. Sascha Grimme, said: “Threats and perpetrators of cybercrimes and the motives behind the cyber-attacks have to be properly identified. There are challenges in identifying perpetrators of cybercrimes; even when identified, there have been instances where they stay in different jurisdictions making prosecution difficult.”
For his part, Chief Transformation Officer at MTN, Mr. Bayo Adekanmi, confirmed that there is an ongoing online revolution in modern times, and that online security was very important.
“There is going to be what I call a technology apocalypse; you will wake up one day and someone is living your life somewhere. Someone once said that identity theft is worse than kidnapping; there is a thin line between privacy and security in modern business,” the MTN executive said.
With these gloomy revelations, stakeholders are worried that government’s efforts to remove Nigeria from the corruption list, has recorded little success going by its prominent placing of being number three globally in cybercrime.
They noted that there are huge benefits and few risks of the use of cyberspace. Both need to be properly managed and urgently too by relevant agencies, they said.
According to an industry analyst and Executive Director, Centre for Cyber- Awareness and Development (Cecad), Dr Bayero Aganbi, Nigeria has been handling the issue of cybercrime with kid gloves—much talks, no action or roadmap.
“It’s a wake-up call to the authorities to understand and take cybercrime very seriously. This is important as we now live in a world where digital is no longer part of the economy but the economy itself. It means we are fully in a digital economy where any organisation that is not online will not grow. This interconnection via digital application makes businesses, both public and private, susceptible to cyber attacks” he said.
Cecad is a non for profit, non governmental advocacy organisation focusing on promoting cyber responsibility and internet for innovation and enterprise.
Commenting on the implications on the economy, another industry analyst, Prince Ezeh said that the ranking has made Nigeria vulnerable and portends danger to the vibrant Information and Communications Technology industry being driven by the government.
“The cybercrime Act of 2015 should be implemented to the letter such that anyone caught will have himself to blame. We can’t go on as a nation being portrayed in bad light. It doesn’t augur well with the image of a futuristic smart country that we are striving to achieve. There should be an overhaul of the ecosystem and re-orientation of youths in the country” he opined.
Speaking to Daily Sun, Director General of the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Isa Pantami, said that as long as millennia’s are online, they are prone to cyber-attacks and cybercrime.
He noted with optimism that with time Nigeria will be free with zero tolerance to cybercrime.
“The reality at hand is that the rate at which cybercrime is trending globally, is even higher than ICT advancement. Experts say cybercrime is growing at the speed of light, while cybersecurity is at the speed of law. With law, you can start the establishment of facts through National Assembly readings and it takes time. But cybercrime has no border, no restrictions and that is why NITDA started the cybersecurity department and is now proactive in technological information dissemination.
“We are also alerting all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the dangers of cybercrime. Cybersecurity is all about enlightenment and no matter how secured one’s network is, if there is no enlightenment, one would be prone to cyberattack through virus-infected mails. And cyberspace is all about creating awareness, which will solve 70 per cent of the problem” he said.
Meanwhile, a recent stakeholders’ forum on cybercrime organised by the Ministry of Communications, British High Commissioner, Mr Paul Arkwright, stated that the United Kingdom government had supported the relevant agencies in Nigeria to see the passage of the Cybercrime Act 2015 between 2013 and 2014.
“Tackling cybercrime remains an enormous challenge that requires the engagement of a range of stakeholders. We can build coalitions and take steps that can reduce the scope and scale of cybercrime,’’ he added.
Similarly, Secretary General of Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), Mr Shola Taylor, explained that Nigeria would always remain a force to be reckoned with in terms of cybersecurity plans with unique opportunities to drive the campaign against cybercrime.
“We will collaborate with the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to tackle the menace of cybercrime in the country” he explained.
For his part, Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, said the new post-modern realities of ICT and cyberspace have extended the frontiers of living space from physical space into cyberspace.