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[OPINION] Advocacy on police harassment on techies in Nigeria  by Ahmed ‘bola TIJANI

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The recent approach by men of the Nigerian Police Force (npf) on fighting cybercrime, especially in Lagos State is becoming embarrassing to the force and the nation in this 21st century, calls for urgent attention by the npf top hierarchy and the Federal government at large.

The situation as being experienced and expressed by young techies in the state can be likened to the military days where “anyone in their interest is guilty of cybercrime until he or she proves him or herself innocent beyond reasonable doubt”.

A situation where anyone seen with a computer laptop and/or smartphone is a suspect of cybercrime and the approach of the police (especially FSARS) is to harass such individual right in the public.

We’ve heard cases where victims of these harassments were asked to power on their laptops or smartphones for a search of only God knows. Even in good faith, this approach is a clear harassment on the citizens and it’s against human right.

Use of Information Technology tools is globally on the rise and has come to stay with its pros and cons. As we have individuals into cybercrime, so we have tech guys doing legitimate businesses with their laptops and smartphones, most of whom would carry their laptops all about.

The police should understand this and do more of intelligence gathering to fish out the perpetrators of crime in the country’s cyberspace.

Ethical tech guys working on projects has more reasons to go about with their laptops because of the nature of the industry. The industry is driven by innovation and inspiration from virtually anything anywhere, and also because they can work from anywhere anytime.

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We the Professionals in the IT industry are really disturbed with the rate of cybercrime been perpetrated by these fraudsters and how the county has been tagged with cybercrime, but more concerned that young innocent ethical tech guys or just any millennial using a laptop or smartphone will have to pay for the negative ingenuity showcased by the few.

I will advise the npf to invest in cybercrime intelligence gathering, just like a special squad in the force on robbery(SARS), they can set up a well ethically trained Anti Cybercrime Unit with the involvement of Professionals in the field of Information Security. The entire police force should also be enlightened on this matter.

It may be very difficult to differentiate a Yahoo boy from a Legitimate Tech guy by mere thought or looking at the person, but with a well organised intelligent investigation, the real fraudsters can be detected, identified, located and arrested, and we the people will be proud of our police.

*Ahmed ‘bola TIJANI mncs is the Secretary, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Lagos Chapter.

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