Gen Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff
Says it defies conditional warfare rules
FG to unveil new cyber policy to check digital threat ― NSA
By Chris Ochayi
Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, Tuesday, declared cyberterrorism as the most precarious challenge facing Nigeria today.
General Olonisakin, who spoke at the multi-stakeholders workshop for the validation of the draft national cybersecurity policy and strategy 2020, organized by the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, in Abuja, attributed the rising cases of terrorism, fake news, and other criminal activities to cyberspace.
Olonisakin lamented cyberspace has been the main warfare after the lands, sea, air and space has no boundary and hence does not obey conditional rules in warfare.
Gen Olonisakin, who was represented by Air vice Marshal Charles Oghonwen, the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans at the Defence Headquarters, stated further that cyberspace is used to facilitate various terrorist activities, such as recruitment, training, propaganda, intelligence gathering and fundraising.
According to him, “Considering the rapid and constant evolution of the cyberspace, it is, therefore, imperative that this document will reduce at this time as initiated by the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA.
“Cyberspace has been the main warfare after the lands, sea, air and space has no boundary and hence does not obey conditional rules in warfare.
“It remains open to exploitation buy state actors, organised syndicates, sect, criminals and terrorists. Cyberterrorism has become the most precarious challenge facing us today as a nation.
“The use of cyberspace to facilitate various terrorist activities, such as recruitment, training, propaganda, intelligence gathering and fundraising, cyber terrorism is now globally recognized as the fundamental threat to global security.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria are not also immune to this menace of cyber threat. That awareness makes me establish the Defence Cyber Operation Centre under the Defence Space Administration enables this house to safeguard the cyberspace for the Armed Forces of Nigeria operations and other security agencies.”
In his keynote address, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) has disclosed that the Federal Government will soon unveil the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, NCPS, 2020 to check digital threats and enhance national security and economic growth for the over 200 million population.
Major Gen Monguno (rtd) noted that the government has been proactive to develop policies that will check threats from the use of cyberspace.
He said his Office inaugurated a multi-stakeholders committee on September 10, 2020, to review the NCPS 2014, noting that the review is to strengthen the existing cyber policy as stipulated that it should be reviewed every five years.
“Our country is currently at a turning point in its history, a significant section of our population of over 200 million people are young and entrepreneurs, we are also witnessing a rapid rise in our adoption of the internet in our daily lives.
“There is no gainsaying that cyberspace has become an engine for the enhancement of Nigeria national security, economic transformation and national development.”
He, however, said the sophistication of cyberspace comes with inherent challenges. “The threats posed by cyber terrorists, and the use of the internet has brought social media circulation of hate speech and seditious messages. It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges.”
He recalled how social media escalated the #EndSARS protest in the last few weeks. “We are witnesses to the escalation in the use of social media to disseminate subversive content to incite violence and heightened tension, causing unrest and sparking widespread looting and destruction across the country.”
The Chairman of the NCPS 2014 Review Committee, Mr Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, said if cyberspace is not regulated as exemplified in recent time with fake news in the social media that could result in civic unrest.
“The current draft document is a result of multi-stakeholder efforts with due cognizant of a whole of society approach while leveraging technology for the well-being of Nigeria and for Nigerians.”
He said the validation workshop is to evaluate the entire process to fine-tune it. “I assure our commitment and resolve to deliver an implementable policy for Nigeria.”
Chairman, Senate Committee, ICT and Cybercrime, Hassan Ibrahim Hadejia, said for the first time in a long while, Nigeria is taking the issue of cybercrime very seriously. “In ICT, if you are reactive, you are finished, you always have to make sure that you are one step ahead.”
He called for collaboration between government agencies and the private sector towards the process of change.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami who was represented by the Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Abdullahi, said never before has cybersecurity become more critical than it is today and that it was due to convergence between offline and online lives.
“Anybody that uses any device that connects to the internet needs to understand and protect himself and have to join the cybersecurity campaign.”
He said the agencies under the ministry are leveraging on this to protect people. “We can collaborate to do it together,” he urged the participants.