Communications Ministry bemoans harassment of young Nigerians with IT devices
The Federal Ministry of Communications has warned security agencies over the increasing cases of harassment, intimidation of young Nigerians carrying Information Technology IT devices and labeling them as fraudsters.
The Ministry while expressing worries over this development noted that it is no longer acceptable whereby security agencies subject such innocent young Nigerians found with such devices to various forms of harassment, intimidation and sometimes extortion under the guise that they are suspected to be criminals.
In a statement signed by the spokesperson to the Minister of Communications, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, the Ministry described this development as unfortunate, especially coming at a time the country should be celebrating the growing and bubbling technology eco-system in the country that provides the platform for young people to learn various skills ranging from software engineering to varied forms of entrepreneurship by simply accessing online tools and content on these devices.
According to the statement, the Ministry is aware that several other persons now engage in criminal activities using these computer systems and similar devices, but warned that it might be dangerous to categorise every Nigerian youth found in possession of such IT devices as fraudsters.
While commending the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, for its use of intelligence gathering and subsequent apprehension of some of these unscrupulous elements, the Ministry enjoined operatives of other security agencies to be more professional in their approach to fighting crimes so as not to rope in an innocent persons.
It therefore assured of the Ministry’s commitment to working closely with parastatals under her supervision, particularly the National Information Technology Development Agencies NITDA, Nigerian Communications Commission NCC.
This is in addition to pledging to work with relevant security agencies, Hubs and all groups promoting digital capacity building in Nigeria to ensure that such incidents are completely eliminated and that all hands are on deck to promote the growth of a healthy eco-system supportive of young Nigerians and creating opportunities to harness their energies.
The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications FMC, has been drawn to reports of widespread harassment of young Nigerians with personal computers, tablets or phablets in public places. These reports indicate that young persons are generally regarded as fraudsters by officers of security agencies if found with such devices in their possession and subsequently subjected to varied forms of harassment and in some cases outright extortion.
“The Ministry notes with dismay, this unfortunate turn of events as we celebrate the growing and bubbling technology eco-system in Nigeria that enables young persons to learn various skills ranging from software engineering to varied forms of entrepreneurship by simply accessing online tools and content on these devices. We are aware that several other persons have engaged in nefarious activities utilising computers and similar devices, we must however be careful not to paint all young Nigerians with a similar brush. At this time, we commend the efforts of some law enforcement agencies, particularly the approach of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, in intelligence gathering and subsequent apprehension of these unscrupulous elements that use computing systems to commit cybercrimes.
“It should be further noted that many young Nigerians have contributed significantly to the impressive growth of the Nigerian economy and have created employment for youth in Nigeria. The digital economy in Nigeria has continued to soar thereby giving impetus to the growth of ICT as a major segment of the economy. It would therefore be counterproductive to stifle this sector of the economy by labeling every young Nigerian with a computing device as a fraudster.
“It is in this light that the Federal Ministry of Communications frowns at the current profiling and harassment of young Nigerians and therefore admonishes security agencies to be circumspect in these situations. We understand the need for pro-activity to protect the society, however this must be done credibly while recognising the fundamental human rights of every citizen of Nigeria. If this situation goes unchecked, it will dampen the vigorous attempt at diversifying the economy and rather push more young energies underground with catastrophic consequences.
“The Ministry is committed to working closely with parastatals under her supervision, particularly the National Information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). We will also work with relevant security agencies, Hubs and all groups promoting digital capacity building in Nigeria to ensure that such incidents are completely eliminated and that all hands are on deck to promote the growth of a healthy eco-system supportive of young Nigerians and creating opportunities to harness their energies.
“The Federal Ministry of Communications will keep working assiduously to foster the growth of a knowledge-based economy and facilitate ICT as a key tool in the transformation of Nigeria in the areas of job creation, economic growth and transparency in governance”.