Unintended Consequences of the Internet

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Adverse use of internet services by Nigerian youths for various crimes is giving security agents in the country sleepless nights

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 17, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

AS internet gains more users in the country, Nigerian security agents have more work to do in curbing the vices associated with it. According to media reports, internet-related crimes have soared. Already the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, claims it has the conviction of more than 288 persons, while 234 persons are facing trial for different internet-related crimes. Nigerians hit by the internet fraudsters are left with sorry tales. Some are defrauded of woes, while others have not lived to tell the stories.

The recent incident of Cynthia Osokogu who was killed by her Facebook friends in Lagos and many other cases are typical examples of what the internet fraudsters are doing in our society. Christopher Okoro, a hotel attendant at Kovina hotel Port Harcourt, Rivers state is worried by the level of cybercrimes in the social media involving youths in the country. He said if the rising youths involvement of Nigerians in Facebook, twitter, 2go, YouTube and many others is not check, it would jeopardise the future of many youths.

Okoro recalled what happened in the hotel last month when a young man lodged in the hotel with a lady whom he later abandoned. Investigations later revealed that the man was a criminal. “One young man lodged in our hotel last month with a lady and after few hours of checking in, the young man came out asking us where he can get Automated Teller Machine, ATM. We directed him but he did not come back till date. When we checked the room late in the night, we found out that he had drugged the young lady, raped her and took her belongings. It was in the morning of the following day that the lady told us that the young man was her Facebook lover,” he said.

Okoro regretted that there was no information to trace the young man because he gave the security guard money to book a night for him with his name. The lady explained that the young man took her blackberry phone, necklace and money.

Stanley Nwalia a secondary school teacher at Ojo, Lagos, has deplored the involvement of students in social media crimes, insisting that the ugly development is negatively affecting our educational system. He said as a teacher, he has seen a lot of the negative influences of social media ranging from distraction in class to defrauding of their fellow students and other people. “We have cases where some students chat with their classmates using their phones even when the teacher is in the class. As far as I’m concerned, internet is killing our educational system,” he said.

The decline in academic performance among secondary school students is a further testimony to this fact. The last results of the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination conducted by the National Examinations Council, NECO and the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, have shown that 80 percent of the candidates failed in Mathematics and English Language. The most worrisome aspect of the failure in English Language is that many students used social networking languages in writing examinations.

But, Vincent Obinna, a student of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, has acknowledged the negative impacts of social media networks among the youths but said Nigerians should equally consider the positive aspect of the social media and how it has helped many youths in linking up with friends. “It’s obvious that cybercrimes and internet- related crimes are increasing every day, but we should also look at the benefits and the positive impacts they have on the lives of the youths,” he said.

Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, has given the assurance that government is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the issue of cybercrime is adequately tackled through economic empowerment. “It is a good development that Nigerian youths are embracing the information technology trend but such change comes with its consequences. So, government is not resting on its oars in ensuring that cybercrime is reduced to the barest minimum by encouraging young people to channel their energy positively into ICT innovation,” she said.

According to research, over 500 million people surf Facebook every day.  Presently, there are over one million Nigerian Facebook active users and over sixty three million mobile subscribers in Nigeria. If the negative effect is not checked it can further affect an already collapsing educational system in Nigeria.

However, while the adventurous tendency of youths nowadays and their exuberance appear to be universal, parents cannot afford to fold their hands and leave them unguided. It is through the internet that the spread of lesbianism and gay relationships are being copied and internalised. It is through the internet that they actualise fraud acts and all other crime associated acts.

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