Sprawl of Cybercrime Among Nigerian Youths Today; An Institutional Propellant

CyberCrime in Nigeria; An institution cause
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the youths constitute 54% of the Nigerian population out of which about 60% are unemployed. Hence, the participation of the youths in cybercrime may be linked to the saying that “an idle hand is the devil workshop”. In addition, there have been reports that the motivation for engaging in cybercrime can be traced to how Nigeria and Nigerians were treated during her colonisation process. Hence, there is an erroneous belief that defrauding the “whites” is an indirect channel of retrieving what was stolen from Nigeria. Irrespective of the reason for engagement in cybercrime activities, a major point here is that it is an illegal act, punishable by both local and international nation. 

The National Security Adviser (NSA) declared that Nigeria lost about 127 billion Naira as at 2016 to cybercrime activities. Also, reports had it that over a thousand lawsuits have been placed on some Nigerian youths over defrauding foreigners through hypothetical dating, business transactions and other channels adopted by this set of criminals. This is not to say that cybercrime is an emerging trend as it has been in vogue since the 1990’s but not as rampant as it is today. Hence, it is the interest of this article to examine the structural factors encouraging cybercrime activities presently in Nigeria. 

The economic and social lives of parents/guardians have overridden the time needed for the necessary socialisation of their children. Hence, these children mingle with the wrong set of people and acquire ideologies that encourage criminal activities. After “hitting it” from this crime activities, they blindfold their parents and guardians by purchasing lands, by building houses and/or by purchasing cars in the name of either their father, mother or other family members, who now see them as breadwinners of the family. This is to say that the basic tenets of the popular saying - charity begin at home - are fading away.
In addition, gone are the days when ladies fall in love with calm, hardworking, religiously active and educated men. Presently, ladies are after guys who are young, rich and handsome; those who can meet their thirst for luxuries and other financial needs. Unfortunately, those who meet these exotic features are the “yahoo-boys”. They get married, build house(s), raise children and make investments with monies made from cybercrime activities: a scenario that has grievous physical and spiritual consequences on them and their generations to come. Men are now forced to engage in the act so they can get attracted to ladies; so they can be seen as the “big boys”. 

Regrettably, youths who engage in this act now seek the services of our “spiritual fathers and mothers” for voodoos to ensure success; a scenario referred to as “yahoo-plus”. It is believed that there “clients” might not “dance to their tune” if the use of sacred equipment are not involved. Reports have revealed that there has been an intensifying crisis of kidnapping and the corresponding discovery of decaying corpse whose selected parts have been cut off in the country. This pitiable phenomenon may be linked to the fact that “yahoo-boys” now go the extra mile to make their “client” pay for their “supposed money”. 

Even landlords now let out their houses/properties to these set of youths. A landlord I conversed with said that: 
I like letting out my houses to Yahoo boys because they are the one who can afford it. They pay for years upfront at any price given to them and as such, they do not owe me rent. Infact, I could not ask for another tenant because they give me money, buy me luxuries and they take care of my children. Well, they know I have links to some Armed forces so they are rest assured that they cannot be arrested and their apartment cannot be raided.
This is to say that the landlords encourage the menace by protecting these criminals because of material rewards. Even bankers help these set of youths to secure the withdrawal of their money via the Western Union and other money transfer channels after they might have agreed on their share of the “cake”. 

Meanwhile, a close examination of the lyrics of some of the songs of selected Nigerian artist shows that they send messages to the most vibrant aspect of the Nigerian population – the youths – to engage in activities that involve making money illegally, buying luxuries, sexing, getting drunk and activities that encourage spending money lavishly. They are mostly found in alcohol joints and clubs popping the most expensive wines, well surrounded by girls and their peers. After getting drunk, they drive recklessly on streets, thereby subjecting residents to the danger of unforeseen accidents. 

Unfortunately, some Nigerian Armed Forces are not helping the situation. In fact, I personally doubt whether the police, for instance, is after the security of lives and properties of the people of Nigeria. In my opinion, they are interested in the hunt for “yahoo-boys” who will after being apprehended, give them their share of the illegitimate cake. A youth once told me some time ago: 
I was caught by Federal Anti-Robbery Squared (SARS) months ago. They told me to pay them some amount of money instantly so they could release me. I negotiated for a lesser amount but they insisted on the amount stated by them. I proved adamant and they took me to their office in Abuja. I later paid five times the money they were asking initially after much brutality. In exchange, a top official gave me a document to show to any SARS, police, and others who stop me on cyber fraud accusations.
Unfortunately, these criminals now mingle with top Armed Forces officials. They offer these officials money in exchange for their protection. In fact, sophisticated cybercriminals now make use of escorts that is far longer than that of some important dignitaries in Nigeria in order to avoid being arrested or embarrassed. 
However, it is appalling that the innocent youths most times suffer the consequences of the illegal acts of these cybercriminals. The police, for instance, do halt to interrogate youths on the streets who do not engage in any illegal act or whatsoever by demanding to search through their phones, bags and other personal properties. Most times, they are publicly brutalised to the extent of forcing them to accept the crime they do not commit. Some are kept in custody, while some are eventually released after “paying them off”. It is most regrettable that these criminals now pose like corps members, doctors, and lawyers to deceive their apprehenders. Therefore, it is important to state here that physical appearance is a part and not a major feature of a cybercriminal. Hence, the police should enhance their model of identifying one. It should also be mentioned here that cybercrime activities have also been stereotyped as they are erroneously perceived to be the profession of the “boys”. However, the concept of “yahoo-girls” has attracted little or no attention by researchers, government, and the civil society. 

It is obvious from the foregoing that the societal institutions, which are expected to apprehend and curb cybercrime activities, as the case maybe, are the major factors encouraging the menace. Sociologically, this is the reason cybercrime activities have become cancerous to the Nigerian social system, hence, unsuitable for the growth and development of Nigeria. Therefore, it is hoped that the insights given by this article will attract the attention of the civil society, government and other concerned stakeholders will ultimately inform the need to deploy intensive strategies to apprehend cybercriminals and to curb cybercrime activities among Nigerian youths within and outside the country. In achieving this, it is advised that the services of experts within the field of criminology should be heavily employed.

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