MINISTER of Communications, Isa Ali Pantami, has condemned the widespread harassment of Nigerians with personal computers, tablets and other ICT gadgets in public places by security operatives.
Uwa Suleiman, spokesperson to the minister on Tuesday said that one the negative effects of this action is that young persons are assumed to be fraudsters by the security officials without evidence or proof of committing such crimes.
“The Ministry notes with dismay, this unfortunate turn of events as we celebrate the growing and bubbling technology eco-system in Nigeria that enables young persons to learn various skills ranging from software engineering to varied forms of entrepreneurship by simply accessing online tools and content on these devices.
“We are aware that several other persons have engaged in nefarious activities utilising computers and similar devices, we must however be careful not to paint all young Nigerians with a similar brush,” read the statement in part.
However, the minister applauded efforts of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in gathering intelligence that has halted the illegal activities and led to the arrest of individuals who through the use of computing systems to commits cyber crimes.
He also hailed the use of technology by many young Nigerians who have contributed to the growth of Nigeria digital economy through the use of Information and Communication Technology.
“It would therefore be counterproductive to stifle this sector of the economy by labelling every young Nigerian with a computing device as a fraudster.
“It is in this light that the Federal Ministry of Communications frowns at the current profiling and harassment of young Nigerians and therefore admonishes security agencies to be circumspect in these situations.
“We understand the need for pro activity to protect the society, however, this must be done credibly while recognising the fundamental human rights of every citizen of Nigeria. If this situation goes unchecked, it will dampen the vigorous attempt at diversifying the economy and rather push more young energies underground with catastrophic consequences,” Pantami said.
In addition, the minister said Ministry is committed to working closely with parastatals under her supervision, particularly the National Information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) “to foster the growth of a knowledge-based and facilitate ICT as a key tool in the transformation of Nigeria in the areas of job creation, economic growth and transparency in governance.”