… Averts fresh showdown with EFCC
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday, alerted the National Security Adviser (NSA) and security agencies and financial institutions in the country to the current and threatening dimensions of cyber-attacks.
The Red Chamber also made a shocking revelation that over $450 million has been lost by Nigerian firms, through cyber attacks. It also claimed that over 3,500 attacks have been carried out on Nigerian firms.
The Senate issued the alert and made the revelations, following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Buhari Abdulfatai and tagged: “Worrisome dimension of cyber-crime and insecurity: Urgent need for concerted efforts to secure Nigeria’s Cyberspace.”
He said the attacks were carried out on May 12, 2017.
The Senate, as part of measures to curtail the global threat, has mandated the Senate Committee on ICT and cyber crime to immediately convoke a national stakeholder conference on cyber security to stimulate a collective reflection among relevant stakeholders and articulate a national and broad-based approach to keeping the country ahead of the challenge.
Last week, over 75,000 computers in 99 countries, were crippled by ‘ransomware’ which rapidly spread across the globe. British hospitals, the Russian Government, German railways and big companies were among those affected.
Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided, warned that strategic institutions of government might be attacked if urgent steps were not put in place by the relevant agencies to curtail the spread.
“They hack into our emails everyday. I am also a victim. They open social media accounts in my name and I have said it that I am not on social media. The main threat is that our strategic institutions maybe attacked by these hackers. All stakeholders need to come together to deal with this challenge.”
Meanwhile, in a dramatic move, the Senate made a U-turn and withdrew a controversial motion, targeted at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The withdrawn motion tagged, “Undue dramatisation of the fight against corruption in Nigeria” and sponsored by Chukwuka Utazi, had lampooned the leading anti-graft agency “for its penchant for undue publicity of its body of evidence at the commencement of investigation.”
Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, at about 1pm, called on Utazi to read the contents of the motion. Incidentally, Utazi, who heads Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes committee, had already left the chamber.
Ekweremadu, who presided, told his colleagues that the motion had been withdrawn.
Though no official explanation was offered, findings by Daily Sun revealed that the leadership of the Senate prevailed on Utazi to jettison it. It was learnt that the Senate did not want to start a fresh showdown with the anti-graft agency.
Utazi, in the withdrawn motion, a copy of which was obtained by Daily Sun, said: “EFCC’s approach tends to compromise the strength of the evidence that could be presented to secure conviction in judicial proceedings.
“I am disturbed about the string of losses of corruption and financial crimes-related cases in court in recent past. These losses, due mainly to insufficient and sometimes, shoddy investigation and the presentation of inadequate, unconvincing body of evidence has cast a dark cloud on the efforts of the current government to reduce corruption in Nigeria to the barest minimum.
“The recourse of, especially the EFCC in blaming the judiciary whenever it loses its case in court is a failure to acknowledge the commission’s shortcomings in the build-up to each case.
“The EFCC’s emphasis on media trial before the conclusion of investigation weakens its case and gives the country a bad image in the comity of nations, discouraging the much-needed foreign investments.
“Nigeria is not the only country that fights corruption and related crimes with the requisite zeal, but we do not hear of putrid stories of sleazy discoveries put out by countries’ anti-corruption agencies to every medium of communication to portray the country in bad light.
“The sudden discoveries of abandoned loot at airports, in septic and water tanks, in highbrow apartments and the dramatisation of the process of the discovery of these orphaned monies paint the anti-corruption war in unpalatable colours, giving the world an impression of a group seeking applause through propaganda and engaging in a circus show to a rather grave national effort.
In his prayers, which were also withdrawn, Utazi urged the EFCC to de-emphasis propaganda and undue publicity in its operations and concentrate on the competent discharge of its core mandate.