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Microsoft Combats Cybercrime in Nigeria

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) and Microsoft have partnered to educate the country's youth on cybercrime and to provide opportunities for them to use their computer skills positively.

The Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN) is a US$50,000 campaign sponsored by PIN and Microsoft in partnership with the Computer Professionals' Registration Council of Nigeria, the Nigeria Computer Society, the Nigerian Internet Registration Association, Planet One Entertainment and Teledom Group.

A 2007 Internet crime report listed Nigeria third in terms of online crime activity, and the prevalence of cybercrime among a sizeable number of young Nigerians goes to show the need for immediate concern, especially with the recent boom in mobile service provision and online payment platforms, explained PIN executive director Gbenga Sesan.

"Microsoft is committed to helping ensure that the Internet is a safe and trusted place to do business," added Jummai Umar-Ajijola, Microsoft's citizenship manager for Nigeria. "Earlier this year, you may have heard that Microsoft announced a vision in which we suggested a series of actions and strategies that the industry could take to reach a point where we could trust the Internet end-to-end. Cybercrime undermines end-to-end trust. It impacts consumer confidence in the Internet as secure and also consumer confidence in using the Internet to buys goods."

Public-private partnerships are essential to addressing the increasing complexities of cybercrime, he said, as no one party can solve the problem alone.

Microsoft, therefore, is partnering with agencies like PIN to provide technical training, investigative and forensic assistance and new technology tools to combat cybercrime, Umar-Ajijola said.

Sesay pointed out that many young Nigerians, like youth everywhere, are unfortunately on the wrong side of the economic divide.

"While this is not an excuse for crime, it has heightened the prevalence, as many of them either lack any serious engagement or are greedy to imitate the flashy people they see on TV and they have now adopted as mentors," he said.

ISSPIN, therefore, involves 24 "ambassadors" that dedicate their time to inspiring youths in 11 states across Nigeria through various activities, including a planned musical collaboration between popular acts that condemns cybercrime, Sesan revealed

"This is interesting," he said, "because the songs that young people listen to in Nigeria today -- including 'Yahooze,' 'Maga don Pay' and 'Operation' -- all glorify cybercrime. Pop culture is a sure way to reach our generation, among other proven approaches."

The campaign model borrows from the one that PIN is currently employing in <a href="http://www.computerworldnigeria.com/articles/2008/04/09/ajegunleorg-tackles-youth-it-training-nigeria-0" target="_blank">Ajegunle</a>, Nigeria's largest slum, Sesay noted.

ISSPIN is running radio, television and online adverts, as well as a "sticker campaign," that will use youth-friendly messages to communicate the anti-cybercrime message, he explained.

Cybercrime cases in Nigeria are usually reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. However, because all of the bills that address cybercrime are yet to be passed by the relevant House of Assembly organs, it is difficult to define a particular process through which cybercrime is handled in Nigeria.

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