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Senate laments Cyber threats to Digital Economy with $500m annual loss

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Senate laments Cyber threats to Digital Economy with $500m annual loss

Nigerian Senate

Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga

The Senate on Wednesday expressed concerns about annual loss of $500 million to various forms of cybercrime across the federation, warning that if the national cybersecurity programme was not effectively funded, the gains of digital economy would be defeated.

Consequently, the upper chamber resolved to review and amend the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 2015 with a view to putting an end to the exploitation of Nigeria’s digital space by cybercriminals and certain individuals with misguided intention.

The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio expressed the concerns on Wednesday at the inauguration of public hearing on the 2023 Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023 at the Senate Complex, Abuja.

The inauguration was at the instance of the Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Security, Senator Shuaib Afolabi Salisu; Chairman, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Shehu Buba Umar and all members of their committees.

In its report, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had claimed that Nigeria “is losing $500 million dollars annually to all forms of cybercrime including hacking, identity theft, cyber terrorism, harassment and Internet fraud.

At the inauguration of the public hearing on Wednesday, the senate president lamented that certain individuals with misguided intentions “are exploited cybercrime laws by tarnishing the reputation of Nigeria.”

Akpabio, represented by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, observed that it was imperative to establish a comprehensive legal framework to deter, investigate, pursue and prosecute cybercriminals.

The senate president said: “In this age of rapid technological advancement and widespread internet usage, cybercrime has emerged as a grave menace to our society, economy and personal security.

“It is imperative and strengthening the existing laws on cybercrime prohibition and prevention. In the past, certain individuals with misguided intentions exploited our weak cybercrime laws, thereby tarnishing the reputation of our country.

“They engaged in a wide array of illegal activities, such as hacking, identity theft, fraud, harassment and cyber terrorism. These crimes not only inflicted significant financial losses upon our country, but also invaded our privacy, disrupted critical infrastructure, and eroded trust in our digital systems.”

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Consequently, according to the senate president, it is of utmost national and economic importance that we establish a comprehensive legal framework to deter, investigate, pursue and prosecute cybercriminals.

In his opening remarks, Salisu explained the national significance of amending the Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023, saying it was intended to enhance the effectiveness of the law by addressing emerging threats and strengthening existing provisions.

He, therefore, challenged all the stakeholders to bring wealth of knowledge, experience and diverse perspectives on cybercrime to the front burner.

He pointed out that cybersecurity “is a complex and multidimensional challenge that requires a collaborative effort among the government, industry, civil society and academia.”

Also at the inauguration, Umar expressed grave concerns about the alarming exploitation and growing widespread of cybersecurity across all sectors, noting that the high cases of cybercrime had placed demand on the country to review the country’s law.

Umar, who initiated the bill, said: “Prioritisation of funding cybersecurity should be a matter of national urgency in the category as the national food security emergency recently declared by His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“If the National Cybersecurity Programme is not effectively funded, the gains of digital economy will be defeated. There is need urgent need for the country to amend the country cybercrimes.

“The current provisions handicapped Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Police to do their works effectively.

“If we must survive as a federation, the current weak approach to enforcing national cyber security directives must be examined and prioritised among other considerations. Currently, EFCC, ICPC, NITDA, CBN, and Nigeria Police funding concentrates on fighting cybercrimes Activities based on their limited Act.”

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