Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Cybercrime and Nigeria's External Image: A Critical Assessment

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Cybercrime and Nigeria's External Image: A Critical Assessment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information and communication technology (ICT) systems are embraced in all facets of life. They are utilized virtually in all households, associations, organizations and governments. Hence, information and communication technology can be said to be an indispensable material as it appears that all human associations, organizations, institutions, governments etc., rely heavily on it to carry out their operations (Onwubiko, 2010). The deluge of the information and communication technology (ICT) system is not only for ease, efficiency and pleasure, but is also an important drive behind innovation and economic growth.

Nigeria is an exemplar of trends in telecommunications development. Nigeria witnessed a great escalation in cell phone ownership, soaring from 13,000 subscribers in 1995 to over 9 million in 2004; internet users rose from under 10,000 in 1995 to 1.7 million in 2004 (OpenNet Initiative, n.d.). The number according to NCC (2015) grew to 81, 892,840 in January 2015. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2013) unveils that:

   Globally, in 2011, at least 2.3 billion people, the equivalent of
   more than one third of the world's total population, had access to
   the internet. Over 60 per cent of all internet users are in
   developing countries. By the year 2017, it is estimated that mobile
   broadband subscriptions will approach 70 per cent of the world's
   total population. By the year 2020, the number of networked devices
   will outnumber people by six to one, transforming current
   conceptions of the internet.

In the hyper-connected world of tomorrow, it will become hard to imagine a 'computer crime', and perhaps any crime, that does not involve electronic evidence linked with internet protocol (IP) connectivity. The growth of the information society is accompanied by new and serious threats. The information and telecommunication revolution is changing the face of crime in many fundamental ways. Advances in technology have provided exciting new opportunities and benefits, but they also heighten vulnerability to crime. Cybercrime, therefore, represents an extension of the conventional criminal behaviour alongside some novel illegal activities (Dennis, 2014). This phenomenon is one of the most serious social problems in our society today. It has threatened the credibility and sabotaged the external image of the country which invariably has a greater effect on the society as a whole. Most efforts to understand cybercrime have focused on the causes of cybercrime and the nature of cybercrime in the country. Yet it is equally important to understand the effect of this crime on Nigeria's external image. Thus, this lacuna is what this paper intends to fill.

Conceptualizing Cybercrime and External image

Cybercrime

There is no commonly agreed single definition of cybercrime. There has been controversy on the criteria been used to determine the definition of the term cybercrime or e-crime or computer crimes. Some IT experts, Criminologists, police, security analysts etc., argued that cybercrime is a crime aided by the computer, or a crime in which the computer network plays a central role. More importantly, some have faulted the tag or label of cybercrime or e-crime. For instance: Don Gotternbarn cited in Javaid (n.d: 1) argued that:

   There is nothing special on the crimes that happen to involve
   computers. Is it possible for a crime being categorized in
   accordance to a tool, equipment, mechanism or means through which
   it was committed? If that is so, how many categories of crime would
   there be? How about the crime committed through using a television,
   automobiles, scalpel, scissors, and other tools, can we categorize
   each of them as individual crimes?"

In arguing against this assertion, Magalla (2013: 8) contends that it is true that, we may not categorize other crimes in accordance to tools, equipment, mechanism or means through which they were committed. …

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