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Ministry cautions against harassment of Nigerians with computing devices


Director General (NITDA), Pantami. Photo/Twitter/nitdanigeria

The Ministry of Communications has called on security agencies in the country to stop the harassment of Nigerians, especially the youths with personal computers, tablets or phablets in public places.
According to the Ministry, there are reports indicating that young persons are generally regarded as fraudsters by officers of security agencies if found with such devices and subsequently subjected to varied forms of harassment and in some cases outright extortion.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman, said the Ministry noted with dismay, this unfortunate turn of events, as it celebrates the growing and bubbling technology eco-system in Nigeria that enables 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.
“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, who 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 the 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,” she stated.
In this light, Suleiman said the Ministry of Communications frowns at the current profiling and harassment of young Nigerians and therefore admonishes security agencies to be circumspect in these situations.
She said the Ministry understands the need for proactivity 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.”

According to her, the Ministry is committed to working closely with parastatals under her supervision, particularly the National Information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); relevant security agencies, hubs and all groups. This is to promote 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.
Sulaiman said the ministry 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.


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