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Fraud: CBN, ICPC, EFCC, others probe online loan companies

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze and Praise Cinwon Ajawo, Abuja 
12 November 2022   |   3:35 am
The National Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) has disclosed that it is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)...

National Commissioner of NDPB, Dr. Vincent Olatunji

The National Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) has disclosed that it is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC,) the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other agencies of government to investigate the activities of online financial loan companies that are currently defrauding vulnerable Nigerians using certain applications. 

The investigation is aimed at finding out their mode of operation, the technology they are using and to look at a holistic way of tackling the problem. 
National Commissioner and the Chief Executive Officer of the NDPB, Mr. Vincent Olatunji, who disclosed this at a briefing organised by the Bureau in collaboration with the NCC yesterday in Abuja, however, lamented that a lot of the online loan Apps operators don’t have physical addresses thereby making it difficult for the agency to track them. 

Olatunji also expressed worry over cyber attacks where malware normally malicious software executes unauthorised actions on the victim’s system. He observed that the issue of national security has gone beyond physical security, saying that is why malware is a cyber war all over the world. He added that the National Cyber Crime Act of 2015 was put in place to address the issue of cyber security. He stated that the NDPB would soon meet with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to see how they can work together to use the issue of privacy and protection to address the issue of cyber security. 

“For every crime committed online, there is somebody behind it and that fellow has a digital identity. We now have a robust digital database under NIMC,” he said. 

Olatunji stated that the NDPB has engaged over 50 public and private institutions on the need to ensure privacy and safety of data of Nigerians, adding that agency was hoping to create over 500,000 jobs in the data protection ecosystem, which would go a long way in reducing the high rate of unemployment in the country. 

The CEO observed that the bureau wants to ensure that the laws are in tune with the global trend, stressing that the Data Protection Bill has been sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for deliberation, stating that it would be sent to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill if approved by the FEC.

He said: “We want to ensure that the Bill is signed into law before the end of the present administration. Data protection and safety has to do with the reputation of the country. We cannot over emphasise the importance of compliance due to the vulnerabilities in the digital space. We are currently carrying out full-scale investigations of alleged violations in the telecom, banking and gaming sectors and we can report that appropriate remedial actions have been initiated.

“We are currently working with the Police Investigation Unit at the Bureau to ensure prompt action in some cases involving shadowy data controllers. As much as we rely on non-criminal processes in redressing breaches of data privacy and protection, it will be sorely wrong for any data controller or data processor to test the resolve of government in bringing willful violators to justice,” he added.