UK, Brighter Futures Roll Out Campaigns To Tackle Cybercrime, Cultism In Nigeria

By Bukar Bolori

The war against cyber crimes in the country gets a boost as the Brighter Futures programme, an initiative supported by the United Kingdom government has launched the Thrive Online campaign.

The initiative, apart from the launch of efforts to curb the rising tide of cyber-related crimes in Nigeria, also launched the Cancel Cultist campaign aimed at reducing cultism and other forms of serious organized crime in Nigeria.

According to a statement on Friday, the Thrive Online campaign aims to reach vulnerable youths and educate them on the dangers of cybercrime while providing alternative pathways to building sustainable livelihoods.

The statement read that while speaking about the campaign during a radio programme in Lagos State, Mr. Oladokun Olajde, a mentorship coach on the campaign stated that Thrive Online is a sustainable development campaign that addresses legitimate ways for youths to be financially independent, and the dangers of serious and organized crimes to themselves, their families, community and the image of the Country.

“We enlighten youths on their roles and responsibilities as citizens in making Nigeria a better place to thrive – both online and globally”, he was quoted saying in a statement issued by the management team of the campaign on Friday.

Over the past decades, serious organized crime (SOC), particularly cybercrime, has caused significant damage to individuals, families, and businesses in Nigeria.

The impact of cybercrime can be seen in the data that reveals the devastating consequences it has caused.

According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Nigerian banks lost N3.5 billion between July and September 2020 to fraud-related incidents, representing a 534-percent increase from the same period in 2019, when it was N552 million.

As part of efforts to reduce SOC activities, the Nigerian government and several organizations have implemented various measures, including the Brighter Futures campaign, to mitigate the tide of cyber-related crimes in the digital space.

The Thrive Online campaign aims to complement these efforts by reaching vulnerable youths through a series of awareness events, radio talk shows, school mentorship programs, and community-based and social media influencers.

The primary aim of the Thrive Online campaign is to educate youths on the fact that hardly anyone makes a decent living through cybercrime. Most people waste their time and get nothing in return.

Involvement in cybercrime is a criminal offense that can have severe consequences, including imprisonment.

Additionally, involvement in cybercrimes can destroy the lives of people affected, including their family members, loved ones, and friends.

The campaign also seeks to highlight the positive ways youths can build a livelihood using online platforms, such as online businesses, learning new skills, and legitimate online-based jobs in tech.

The Brighter Futures campaign management says it is working with the Nigerian government and other civil society organizations to create a safer and more prosperous future for Nigeria.

In the same vein, noted that the Cancel Cults campaign launched in Bayelsa State would primarily focus on vulnerable youths and educate them on the dangers of cultism and provide alternative pathways to build sustainable livelihoods.

It noted that cultism and other forms of serious organized crime have been a significant challenge in Nigeria.

No fewer than 10,000 people have been killed in cult-related violence within and outside school campuses between 1996 and 2019, according to Exams Ethic Marshall International (EEMI).

The Cancel Cults campaign is adopting various strategies to reach vulnerable youths in Bayelsa State, including radio talk shows, awareness events, engagements in schools and communities, and social media influencers, the management stated.

The campaign will also introduce school mentorship programs and sports to sensitize vulnerable youths to the dangers of cybercrime to their communities.

Speaking about the campaign in Bayelsa State, Mr. Emmanuel Diala, a community-awareness facilitator on the Cancel Cults campaign stated, “The Cancel Cults campaign is designed to create an environment where youths can thrive through legitimate means.

“We believe that by educating young people on the dangers of cultism and other serious organized crimes (SOCs) and putting them on the right track in building sustainable livelihoods, we can reduce their involvement in cultism.

“The campaign is working with the government and other Civil Society Organizations to create an environment where youths can thrive through legitimate means. It encourages young people to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them and avoid the trap of cultism and other criminal activities.”

Speaking about the impact of the campaign in Edo State, Mr. Odili Adams, a member from one of the target communities of the Cancel Cults campaign stated, “For too long, we have feared that one day our children and young adults would fall victim to the lies of cultists and end up wasting their lives, after all, there is a limit to how much we parents can monitor our children, however, this campaign will augment the efforts made to protect our youths from cultist’s narratives and build their resilience to become valuable members of the community.”

The management team reiterated that the launch of the Cancel Cults campaign in Edo State is a step in the right direction towards curbing cultism and other forms of serious organized crime in Nigeria, saying it will enlighten young people in Edo and Bayelsa State to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities through legitimate means.

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