The Federal Ministry of Communications (FMC) has frowned at security agencies unlawfully harassing young Nigerians carrying laptops, tablets and other digital devices in the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami in a statement signed on Tuesday by spokesperson Uwa Suleiman. He also admonished security agencies to be circumspect and exercise restraint from such.
The minister posits that if this trend continues, it will dampen the vigorous attempt at diversifying the economy and push more young energies underground with catastrophic consequences.
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications (FMC), has been drawn to reports of widespread harassment of young Nigerians with personal computers, tablets or phablets in public places.
“These reports indicate that young persons are generally regarded as fraudsters by officers of security agencies if found with such devices in their possession and subsequently subjected to varied forms of harassment and in some cases outright extortion.
“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,” the statement read in part.
The Ministry said although it is aware that several other persons engage in nefarious activities using computers and similar devices, caution must be applied so as not to paint all young Nigerians with a similar brush.
They also commended the efforts of some law enforcement agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in intelligence gathering and subsequent apprehension of these unscrupulous elements who use computing systems to commit cybercrimes.
According to them, the digital economy in Nigeria has continued to soar thereby giving impetus to the growth of ICT as a major segment of the economy.
“It would, therefore, be counterproductive to stifle this sector of the economy by labelling every young Nigerian with a computing device as a fraudster.
“We understand the need for proactivity 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,” the statement added.
The Federal Ministry of Communications said it is committed to working closely with parastatals including the National Information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and relevant security agencies, Hubs and all groups promoting digital capacity building in Nigeria to ensure that such incidents are completely eliminated and that all hands are on deck to promote the growth of a healthy eco-system supportive of young Nigerians and creating opportunities to harness their energies.