By Esther Onyegbula
The Commissioner of Police in charge of Police Special Fraud Unit, Lagos, Kabiru Ibrahim, in this chat, tells Sunday Vanguard that policemen are currently being trained to complement efforts at fighting internet fraud. He provides insights into the multidimensional nature of the crime, saying the police have chased many internet fraudsters out of Nigeria.
Most financial crimes are committed online these days. How do you equip your men towards stemming the tide?
If you noticed, this place is not as busy as it used to be. The reason is that most of our policemen are undergoing training and capacity development at the Police Training College, Jos while others are undergoing courses at the Police Detective College, Oji River, Enugu State. This is the second batch of officers to undergo training. These trainings are geared towards building human capacity and equipping our men and officers to adequately address new developments in fraud. And it is going to be continuous. At the end of the training, officers who pass the examinations would continue to investigate fraud while others would be redeployed to other departments and sections.
Most victims for so many reasons find it difficult to report that they have been defrauded. How do you get your leads? And the tool mainly used in perpetrating fraudulent acts today is the mobile phone which is very personal. How do you get evidence from it?
An individual’s mobile phone is more visible than the individual. Every single thing a person does with his or her mobile phone is visible. Text messages, phone calls and conversations can be traced. That is why even when call logs, messages and conversations are deleted, they can be retrieved and extracted whenever investigations demand. A phone is like a computer, even when information is deleted it can be retrieved and used as pieces of evidence. The only exception is when such cases are not reported.
What is your relationship with the telecom operators in terms of cracking hard cases, since they are so particular about keeping privacy obligations with subscribers?
We have excellent relationship with telecommunication companies. In spite of telecommunication subscribers’ right to privacy, a subscriber loses that right once he or she commits a crime and is being investigated for fraud by the police.
Why is there an increase in financial crimes lately?
The reason is that we worship and respect money. Many people can do whatever to get money. But what the Nigeria Police and other agencies involved in investigating financial crimes are doing is that we are beaming searchlight on fraudsters to the extent that so many of them can’t operate in Nigeria anymore. We have made it virtually impossible for them to operate. A lot of them had to relocate outside the country to evade arrest. We have been able to checkmate the activities of fraudsters with detailed investigations we have done.