EDITORIAL-Changing Criminal Minds to National Assets
The heavy drumbeats of the marauding Fulani herdsmen, the maddening suicide attempts, and series of kidnaps, seem though on a cue mellowed down for the more pervading news of internet fraudsters, known by a common household name –Yahoo boys.
This does not mean that internet fraud has not been there, but it seemed to have garnered more dust in recent times and has forced all ears to the ground. Unfortunately, it seems this unholy act has finally chosen to pitch its tent in our country, Nigeria.
Those who have so much been linked to this particular crime are young Nigerians. Each day takes up the story, several internet assisted crimes known as cybercrimes are committed daily in various forms such as fraudulent electronic mails, pornography, identity theft, hacking, cyber harassment, spamming, automated teller machine spoofing, piracy, phishing, and many other nameless evils.
The mention of the name” Nigeria” now more than ever pushes people’s eyebrows to their foreheads. In late August of 2019, Operatives of Lagos State Police Commands arrested a 19 year old boy and his accomplice father, for defrauding a businessman Ekemezie Obinna, of the sum of 1.2 million naira, through cyber related fraud.
Just recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the U.S investigated about eighty suspects, mostly Nigerians, indicted in the recent money busted laundering and cybercrime offences in the U.S.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), also reported as at august 2019, that they have arrested 263 suspects for cybercrimes-related offences in the year 2019.
111 of them have been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms. The list is endless.In 2017, Nigeria ranked 3rd in global internet crimes behind UK, U.S, according to Nigerians Communications Commission (NCC). This of course is nothing to be proud of.
However, notwithstanding the nefariousness of cybercrimes, one point should not be missed, and that is, that it takes a genius to commit a cybercrime, it is not something within the grasp of every Tom, Dick and Harry. So cybercrimes, truth be told, is evil.
For no matter how ingenuous a crime may be the ingenuity does not make up for the deficiency of the act. But from another angle it could be seen as a case of something good being used for the wrong course, that is running very well but outside the track.
The Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) in its 2018 report ranked Nigeria 57th out of 175 countries in the campaign against the menace of cybercrime globally.
She was equally ranked fifth in Africa. This is quite commendable. But it would be something worthwhile that the punishments meted out to the culprits of cybercrimes is not limited to just prison yards or decades of incarceration.
These “ingenuous” criminals are far too precious to be strangulated behind bars. Since a preponderance of this bandwagon are youths, their potentials can be effectively maximized by channeling them into a more legitimate and profitable endeavours.
In this dusk of dwindling economy, these mostly hungry talents, can be put to good use and not just offered to the gods of the gallows that knows not the definition of mercy. Despite the scary penalties meted out to the culprits, the crime has not abated.
So it is high time we started asking “why”, so as to get the right answers. Most internet fraudsters are geniuses and equally terrors. But when this ingenuity is put to right use for the common good, they can turn out to become the talents we need.