Proprietor Of A ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ School And His Students Arrested In Enugu - 9japarrot


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Wednesday 10 May 2023

Proprietor Of A ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ School And His Students Arrested In Enugu

By Saeed Tijjani

‘Yahoo yahoo’ is a Nigerian lingo for cybercrimes that hobble the digital space, with perpetrators having incurred a negative image on Nigeria before the international community. 

Some internet fraudsters in Enugu zone, including the proprietor of a ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ school and his students, have been arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), The Nation reports.

‘Yahoo yahoo’ is a Nigerian lingo for cybercrimes that hobble the digital space, with perpetrators having incurred a negative image on Nigeria before the international community.

A statement by the anti-graft agency early last week said no fewer than 18 suspected cyber fraudsters were nabbed by agents of the Enugu zonal command from different locations within the state. Among those arrested in a sting operation on May 1 were Chigozie Philips, who is the alleged founder of Holy Family School in Abakpa, Enugu State, where prospective cybercriminals were being trained. 

Thirteen other suspects, who were his trainees, were also arrested. The EFCC statement said 20 mobile phones and two laptops were among items recovered from the persons arrested. “The suspects have made useful statements and will be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded,” the statement by agency spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren added.

The arrests in Enugu came against the backdrop of similar exploits in recent history by the EFCC. About mid-last year, the anti-graft agency tackled down a 24-year-old proprietor of a cybercrimes academy in Lokogoma axis of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, along with 16 of his trainees aged between 16 and 27 years. Two cars (a Lexus Rx 350 and Toyota Highlander), laptops, smart phones and charms were among items recovered from them.

Not long before that, EFCC staged a similar exploit in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, where 23 suspects including operators and trainees of a cyber fraud school were arrested by its operatives. The suspects aged between 19 and 35 years were undergoing training in various aspects of the internet fraud such as love scam, online trading scam and identity theft, among others.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), sometime last year, reported that cybercrime remains one of the dangers of digital transformation in Nigeria and across the globe. According to the regulatory agency, developmental and socio-economic opportunities posed by a digitally literate population are enormous; but there are also severe risks entailed, especially with a youth unemployment rate estimated at about 45 percent by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“We report that cybercrime alone, one of such risks, contributes to 0.08 percent of the (gross domestic product) loss at about $500million. Tax evasion, terrorism, and health and safety violations are other risks associated with an increasingly digitally literate, mobile dependent economy,” the commission said in its ‘Deployment of a Device Management System (DMS)’ document uploaded on its website. Other reports showed that yearly loss to cybercrime globally hit $6trillion at the end of 2021.

The domestic instrument Nigeria has in fighting the menace is the Cybercrime Act 2015, a law that designates certain computers, systems, networks and information infrastructure as critical national information infrastructure and prescribes the death penalty for extreme levels of violation. The law, for instance, prescribes various terms of imprisonment for internet fraudsters who hack computer systems.

The Act also stipulates various terms of imprisonment for identity theft, cyberstalking and cyberbullying, cybersquatting, racist and xenophobic postings. The Cybercrime Act permits network operators to keep traffic data and subscriber information without necessarily violating individual privacy. It also prescribes lawful interception of electronic communication, among others. The provisions of the law, however, have not by themselves served a deterrence to cybercriminals as their rank appears to be swelling, to the point of being systematised with ‘yahoo yahoo’ schools.

It is unfortunate that some people prefer to promote cyber fraud academies where they could have established legitimate Information Technology (IT) institutions. This is sheer misapplication of entrepreneurial drive powered by digital skills. And the paradox of the latest burst by the EFCC is almost choking: ‘Holy Family School’ as name for a cybercrime academy! But it is also obvious that the trend is energised by how society idolises wealth, particularly illicit wealth.

Two Nigerians – Obiwanne Okeke popularly known as Invictus Obi, and Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka Hushpuppi – pulled the biggest internet heists in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and until tackled down by security operatives of other countries, they commanded cult following among relations and acquittances in their homeland and role-modelled for some youths. Societal morality has sunk so low that some mothers were in recent times reported staging a demonstration to get their children arrested for alleged internet fraud by security agents released. And it is the same factor that propels the ritualist dimension of cybercrime known as ‘Yahoo plus.’

There is need for drastic reset of the societal value system to elevate integrity and hard work above easy wealth. Besides, news of arrest of cyber fraud suspects isn’t enough; they must be brought relentlessly to justice to dissuade emulators.

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