United States of America on Aug. 23, released the names of 80 Nigerians involved in cybercrimes. They were identified after three years of painstaking investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Most of the names on the list, were youths, enmeshed in internet fraud and money laundering related activities.
Dr Ego Ugboju, a public affairs analyst, expressed worry at the development, and stressed that something urgent must be done to stop Nigerian youths from drifting.
Ugboju said that to the most of the youths, cybercrime, drug trafficking were no crimes, noting that credit card fraud, wire transfer scams, advance fee fraud, marriage scams were all seen as hustles and adventure.
“Majority of the young men coming out of my village want to head to South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand. Before now, they wanted to go to Onitsha and Aba to learn a trade once they dropped out of school.
“These days, every school dropout, including university graduates are all heading same dangerous direction.’’
Ugboju said those who could not go straight to Asia, were now moving to West African countries in search of sudden wealth.
He said that those who could not move outside the country, now engaged in playing ‘Bet9ja,’a sport betting, placing bets on premiership leagues, this he said was borne out of pure craze for quick wealth.
Ugboju also alleged that some parents even dispose-off their landed property to sponsor their children abroad not to study, but to make quick money.
Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, observed that all the crimes of today have their roots in the past.
According to him, be it human trafficking, drug peddling, scamming, known as 419, robbery, corruption and embezzlement in public office, all have their roots in the past.
“You will be surprised to read of the names of big families who their progenitors made their money through these despicable ventures.’’
Mr Chinemerem Onwuleri, a legal practitioner, said that the get rich quick via cybercrime, should be addressed promptly.
According to him, it is a predominantly indoor crime that no one sees happening in the open, and thus gives society the semblance of normalcy, given that culprits only emerge to “spend proceeds”.
Onwuleri called on community leaders, leaders of thought and other stakeholders to act and arrest the ugly development before it degenerated further and the country’s image damaged irreparable.
“Now that the tipping point has been reached and arguably `passed,’ I hope communities can act before it is too late,” he stated.
Sam Dancolf, a businessman, condemned the trending nature of get rich quick at all cost.
He said that it was abnormal for the youths not to see the heinous act as crime.
“Our moral fabric is not just torn, we had long set it ablaze, we are left with the good for nothing ashes of immorality, it would take us real hard work at having an altered mind as a people and as a nation.’’
Mr Chukwu Orji, a political analyst, said that the driving force for Nigerian youths to leave the country in search of greener pastures to make quick money should be identified.
He said that fussing about the symptoms and not the real cause will only address the symptoms, noting that many citizens whose countries are doing well do not travel out of their place.
To him, many Nigerians, including skilled professionals of many years of practice in the country, will desperately leave Nigeria if given the opportunity.
Orji said Nigerians should be worried more what was responsible for not only cybercrime and drug trafficking, but other vices among the youths.
According to him, majority of Nigerians were forced to leave the country because of harsh economic conditions.
To Orji, what should bother every discerning mind in Nigeria now is to address the reason people are engaging in crimes and not only abroad but here in Nigeria.
According to him, there is an economic crisis back home, amplified by the wasteful barbarism and sleaze of the ruling class.
“These things have consequences and you are seeing one of them in the 80 Nigerians arrested for cybercrime and drug trafficking, but the typical black man does not think about tomorrow and the consequences of his actions today.’’
Abdulahi Olajire, an educationist, said it was not only Nigerians that leave their country for greener pastures as many Europeans, Asians, Canadians do so too, and struggled to get their citizenship.
“Were all these people driven from their country of birth because of poverty?
“Please, we should all stop all these flimsy excuses in defending bad characters.
“ These people are real thieves and their actions must be condemned in its totality.’’
Dr Kayode Ajulo, a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, said cybercrime should be a source of concern to everybody.
According to him, the society has abandoned merit, all we are after is to see people with money, worship them, I think that is what caused the problem.
The constitutional lawyer said that by the time Nigerians and the government start asking question about the source of wealth of individuals, the craze for ill gotten wealth will reduce drastically.
“There are laws in Nigeria that can be used to question the source of people’s wealth, the agencies empowered to enforce the laws should do so.’’
Ajulo regretted that wealthy people are honoured today in their communities and religious organisations without questioning the sources of their wealth.
He noted that the youths could easily conclude that crime is not an offence since fraudsters are celebrated.
“They saw their parents do it and get away with it.
“They saw the society celebrate ill gotten wealth, they saw pastors glorify wealthy members of the congregation, without regard to how they got the money.’’
“ And the youths came to the conclusion: that either they make it or die trying.”
( Credit: Femi Ogunshola, NAN)