The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Tuesday, said it is carrying out several initiatives including massive enlightenment to educate children and youth on the ills of cybercrimes.
It also said it had measures in place to protect these young ones from the antics of cybercriminals.
The commission demonstrated this through a cybersecurity awareness campaign at a conference attended by students from 24 school in Abuja on Tuesday.
It said the campaign gives concrete expression to the commission’s effort at strengthening ‘child online protection’ within the country.
Addressing the students and other participants at the event on Tuesday, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said the ministry places primacy on proper and continuous education of end-users of telecom services.
He said together with its various agencies, the ministry is working to implement ”the eight pillars of its recently-unveiled National Digital Economy Strategy and Policy” aimed at ”unleashing robust digital economy where everything is ICT-driven towards accelerating economic prosperity”.
Also, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, said the NCC-sponsored cybersecurity enlightenment programme has a specific interest in online protection of the youth ”especially the children both in public and private schools.”
“It is an undeniable fact that the Internet has become an indispensable element of everyday life, for that reason, our children and youths are not excluded,” he said.
“They are highly involved in the use of new technology applications, especially since it provides the opportunity for research, learning, communication, entertainment, and business for those with entrepreneurial minds,” the EVC said.
Mr Danbatta said that ”the pervasiveness of the internet and the proliferation of mobile phones make it difficult for parents and guardians to effectively monitor the online activities of their wards in comparison to the old system of connecting to the Internet via desktops and laptops.”
He emphasised that although the internet provides countless opportunities for children, ”it also exposes them to potentially harmful content.”
He cited a United Nation’s report on Nations Populations Estimates and Projections, which looked at Nigeria’s population from 1960-2019, and indicated that children and youths constitute a large portion of the country’s population.
He said the report further indicates that the median age of the country is 18.4 years as of 2019.
Based on other statistics, Mr Danbatta said children and youth are the most active participants online via social media networking sites, ”making them potential victims of grooming, inappropriate content and exposure to unscrupulous actors in the cyberspace.”
The official said the commission had instituted various initiatives to tackle the threat.
One such initiative, he said, ”is the ongoing awareness campaign to sensitise secondary schools children across the country to cyber-related crimes, such as cyberbullying, Internet fraud, identify theft, online soliciting of minors.”
”This explains NCC’s plan to educate many audiences on the necessary information and knowledge required to safeguard against cyber criminality in line with the commission’s responsibilities as a regulator that is Irrevocably committed to protecting and empowering consumers of all ages and statuses,” he said.
Other initiatives, he said, include ”collaborating with key cybersecurity stakeholders to foster and engender a robust cybersecurity environment, and the involvement of the commission in all the collaborative process that culminates in fashioning various cybersecurity policies, strategies and laws. ”
He also mentioned NCC’s involvement in the establishment of a Cyber Security Incidence Response Team (CSIRT) as well as the establishment of the Internet Industry Code of Practice by the Commission.
The measures, according to Mr Danbatta, was to ensure that industry-wide standards and obligations of minimum cybersecurity provision are implemented for the protection of child online and securing communication infrastructure.
PREMIUM TIMES has published several reports of sporadic arrests of internet fraudsters and cybercriminals, popularly known as ‘Yahoo boys’, who are usually youth, by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.