ANALYSIS: Cybercrime prevalent in schools, breeds other crimes including murder

As cybercrime keeps increasing, especially in our tertiary institutions, Campus Life looked into the gross effects and how it has generated other crimes in the country. In this report, WITHIN NIGERIA highlighted how Nigerian students have been arrested and some jailed for a crime that is being celebrated in society and bred grievous crimes, including murder.

The spate of cybercrime in Nigeria

In 2021, Nigeria had 108.75 million internet users. The country is topping the table of internet users in Africa. This figure as provided by Statistica is projected to grow to 143.26 million internet users in 2026. The benefits of using the internet are enormous, however many have leveraged it to commit crimes and perpetuate all kinds of evils, cybercrime is majorly, popularly referred to as Yahoo Yahoo.

The ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ business, formerly known as cyber fraud in Nigeria’s cybercrime law, is not a new phenomenon in the country. The illicit business, mostly perpetrated by young men and sometimes women, is an offshoot of the so-called ‘419’ business of the 1980s and 1990s.

The 419 code is derived from a section of the country’s Criminal Act Section 419 (Advance Fee Fraud) which frowns at obtaining money from people through pretense or impersonation, cheating, falsification, counterfeiting, forgery, and fraudulent representation of facts.

Cybercrime has become a worldwide phenomenon eating deep into the country. In a recent FBI report, Nigeria was ranked 16th globally among countries most affected by internet crime, a very worrisome figure.

Cybercriminals use technology to commit malicious activities on digital systems or networks with the intention of stealing sensitive company information or personal data and generating profit. They engage in fraudulent electronic mails, pornography, identity theft, hacking, cyber harassment, spamming, Automated Teller Machine spoofing, piracy, and phishing.

Some of these cybercriminals are high school graduates and even students. Many address themselves as ‘yahoo boys’ connoting their pride in engaging in this illicit act.

The rise of cybercriminals in our tertiary institutions

In 2021, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, disclosed that more than 2.1 million students are currently studying in Nigerian Universities.

Campus Life however discovered that several institutions in the country have turned into a residual place for these criminals, with more than 50 students arrested for different cyber crime involvement.

In March 2021, a final year student of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Adigun Oladapo Oludele, was sentenced to one year in prison for offenses bordering on internet fraud. Properties recovered include a Lexus vehicle, phones, wristwatches, money; all these were forfeited to the federal government.

On July 27, 2021, a Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin Tuesday jailed three undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State University, and Kwara State Polytechnic to various jail terms having found them guilty of various offenses preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The students convicted were Abubakar Abdulbashit Opeyemi, a final year student of the University of Ilorin, Alimi Abiodun, and Idowu Rasaq Olarewaju, who are students of the Kwara State University University, KWASU, Malete, and Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin. These students were found guilty of offenses bordering on love scam and internet fraud.

In August 2020, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arrested four students of the University of Port Harcourt for their alleged involvement in Internet fraud. The students were identified to be Prince Hyacinth, Rex Emadifie Oghene, Odili Ifeanyi, and Uduak Williams.

On the 19th of September, 2021, Operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arrested 30 suspected cyber fraudsters in a sting operation at the Kwara State University, KWASU, Malete. Some not found culpable were later released. six exotic cars, several laptops, mobile phones, and other incriminating documents were recovered.

In October 2021, 29 Students of Ladoke Akintola University were arrested by the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for cybercrimes. 25 LAUTECH students were equally arrested in 2019 for alleged internet fraud.

Also in Jan 2022, Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin has sentenced a 24-year-old student of the State University, Malete, KWASU, Alonge Toyib Alao, to one-year imprisonment for cybercrimes and possession of fraudulent funds.

In Feb 2022, Two students of the Kwara State University, (KWASU), Malete, Animasahun Rokeeb Mayowa, and Lawal Alamin Tewogbola were on Tuesday convicted and sentenced to various jail terms by Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin over offenses bordering on cyber fraud.

…From cybercrime to Ritual killings

As this menace keeps increasing, cyber criminals have stepped up their game in search of illicit wealth. The “Yahoo Yahoo” business has degenerated to Ritual killings, cutting the head and other body parts of humans to make more money.

In Dec, 2021, a suspected ‘Yahoo boy’, simply identified as Osas, allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Elohor Oniorosa, for money ritual purposes. He was said to have slaughtered his girlfriend in Egor area of Benin metropolis.

In September, 2021, A female student of the Niger Delta University (NDU), Amassoma, Deborah Emafridom, was rescued from her suspected Yahoo boy lover, Sunday Favour Ojo, while he was attempting to behead her for money ritual purposes along Setraco Road in Ogobiri Community in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Also in November, 2021, a student of Osun State Polytechnic Iree, identified as Wumi, died after being reportedly used for money ritual by her boyfriend. She was a National Diploma 1 student at the department of mass communication.

In September, 2021, a female student of the Niger Delta University (NDU), Ammasoma, Bayelsa State, was rescued from her lover boy, a suspected ritualist (Yahoo boy) who tried to behead her.

In January, 2022, Jennifer, a student of University of Jos, Plateau State was murdered on the eve of the New Year in Jos. The eyes of the deceased, which was buried, were removed and other parts mutilated by the suspect, her supposed boyfriend.

This menace is still increasing regardless.

Students express views

Students across various institutions have shared their opinion on students’ involvement in cybercrime.

Agbaje Temilade, a student of Tasued, knocked parents for not paying attention to their children. She also attributed it to peer pressure

“Most times it is peer pressure, the type of friends they move with, wanting what others have which is lack of contentment. Sometimes parents can be a causing factor. Parents send their wards off to school without proper preparations like provisions. I have seen someone who scouts throughout her entire time in the university. Parents also pressure kids comparing them to their mate, asking when they would start making money. Social media is also a adding factor to cybercrime” she said

Oluwapelumi Olagija, a student of Ekiti state university said the feeling of independence led students to be involved in cybercrime.

“I hate assumptions but I strongly believe being responsible got them into this whole thing. They wanted to take responsibility without being pressured, it’s not easy to be a male child. I’m not saying cyber crime is good but limited resources trigger a high number of them to be involved in cybercrime.”

Ogunleye Ayomide of Abraham Adesanya polytechnic, said students see cybercrime as the easiest way to fend for themselves, which makes them involved in it.

“We know it is a criminal offense to engage in cyber crime, but on the contrary why do we think they do it? I feel like things are not so cool in this country and they feel like the easiest way to fend for themselves and family is doing that, most students doing it in tertiary institutions are footing their own bills their parents can’t even afford to send them to school. It is bad but it seems to be a source of help to most of them”

A recent graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Oshoniyi Mojetoluwa, said that students engage in cybercrime due to lack of contentment.

“People do it for many reasons, some do it due to lack of contentment and peer pressure. Although I know a couple of people who engage in it, I even have friends among them. It’s not good and it has consequences too. They want more, and after getting it, they ask for more. If big money is obtained illegally, you will always seek illegal ways to earn more.” She said

Authorities not doing enough to end cybercrime

A Lagos based lawyer, Festus Ogun, said there is no will on the part of the authorities to put an end to cybercrime. Festus opined that cybercrime has endangered the future of the country and youths who engage in cybercrime are “on a lone path to destruction”

“There is no will on the part of the authorities partly because those who should implement the law themselves ought to be put on trial for financial and other cyber related crimes. Cybercrime further exposes the future of our country to danger. A country whose youths take pride in cybercrimes, in place of hard work, is on a lone path to destruction.”

“The chunk of the duty lies with the authorities. And the authorities, for plethora reasons, are indeed not committed to putting an end to cyber crimes in this country”

He said that school management can go ahead to make policies, rules and regulations that are in tandem with the cybercrime act 2015, connoting their commitment to end cybercrime in schools and in the country.

“Absolutely, school management can go ahead to make policies, rules and regulations that are in tandem with the cybercrime act 2015. That shows that they are equally showing commitments to put an end to cybercrime in this country. If we do not, as a matter of national urgency, put an end to cybercrime, then the future of our country is in peril” he said

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