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OPINION: The Switch Of Cultism For Cybercrime In Nigerian Campuses: A Case Study Of One Crime Replacing The Other

Photo file: KWASU and Kwara state Polytechnic students arrested in Ilorin by EFCC for alleged Cyber Crime

By Opeyemi Oladimeji

Throughout the world, universities and other institutions of higher learning have often been referred to and regarded as “citadel of learning”, “institutions of higher learning” etc. The same used to apply to tertiary institutions in Nigeria until about some decades ago when as a result of persistent secret cult activities, those institutions have become “Centres of violence”, “Schools for Destruction” and “Institutions for killing”.

A few years ago, one of the greatest and most embarrassing problems facing tertiary institutions in Nigeria are the menace and aggressiveness of cult members and cult-related activities by students. Never before has the potentials for the destruction of lives and property on campuses been so great or escalated so fast and horrible as then. There is hardly any academic session without reported cases of cultism in most Nigerian institutions. It is doubtful whether there is any Nigerian institution of higher learning that has not experienced the menace of cultism at any time.

It is evident that from the universities, the polytechnics, colleges of education, other tertiary institutions and some secondary schools, emerged stories of violence, torture and unwarranted intimidation exerted by members of secret cults. Several destructive cult activities on campuses were mind-boggling, irritating and distasteful. The lives of promising young men and women were been cut short by the bloody hands of murderous gangs on campuses. Cultism went so wire that the resultant indiscipline culminated into misconduct of various degrees. Cultism in Nigerian tertiary institutions then became a thing of great concern to the school authorities and society at large. Most acts of indiscipline in tertiary institutions were traceable to cultism, and it became a source of worry to lecturers, parents, school authorities, the government and the society. No doubt with its trend of activities, Cultism is a Crime, and punishable with years of imprisonment under the law.

However, there seems to be a new turn of the event with the emergence of another crime – Cybercrime, currently overshadowing its predecessor – Cultism. The frequency of cultist activities seems to have dwindled, no thanks to the country’s economic situation and the get-rich-quick syndrome that has engulfed the mind of the youthful population, particular the tertiary institution students, making the new crime of Cybercrime lucrative and endearing.

Several higher institutions in Nigeria are prominently known to have headquartered don of cybercriminals. A mention of those institutions to an average Nigerian seems to depict that there’s an unsaid “Headquarter of Cybercrime” as the motto of the school. The menace has now permeated all spheres of our educational institutions, and currently earning us the pedigree of being “fantastically corrupt” in the global space, according to Mr Cameron, the former Prime Minister of the UK. One will then ask the question of what will become the reputation and future of Nigeria among the committee of Nations in the next 10 years.

Are we meant to say that this is a palatable situation since the former popular crime, cultism, is frequently laced with violence and destruction of lives and properties and that the newly-emerged crime is less violent, though economically brutal on the victims? This has generated a lot of opinions, particularly among social media users, some of them are quoted below:

“I think Yahoo reduced cultism in the university campuses and even amongst the young people generally. One crime replaced another. But only that this one is nonviolent. Boys discovered they could be doing jazz to get money instead of using it for some gun control. Lmao”- @Tope_Soft (Twitter)

“True. Will you prepare taking a bullet then ridding under AC”@Ken6488 (Nairaland)

“It’s very true though in a bad way. Frustration and idleness are one of the major causes of cultism crises in schools. I still blame the government for not making life good for people especially the parents of the youths they can’t provide adequately for their kids which results in cultism and prostitution. Greed is another aspect too; I see it as a result of the youths trying to fight back oppression from the Nigerian economy stealing politicians.” @9jaPride (Nairaland)

“This is true. The baddest guy for our area don turn Yahoo nigga no wan die as he don get money” @Imustnottalk (Nairaland)

“Yahoo is not only a crime, the money made from it does not make money for Nigeria, does not create jobs, and does not provide tax revenue. Most of the money earned is spent on imported stuff anyway. It also helps drives away investors from the country, in addition to the insecurity and bubu on the throne. Anyone justifying Yahoo should have their head checked.”@Modrovdeuz (Nairaland)

“This is funny but very true, everyone is looking for the money, and the Yahoo boys dey oppress us too, almost all the girls dey bill person as if they are paying us for being a male, na the Yahoo boys cause am.” @Demigod22 (Nairaland)

Judging from the several opinions above, one may want to conclude that the populace are gradually accepting cybercrime to be a form of social change, and as a firm response to the economic victimization by the government, however, becoming a norm. What an unfortunate situation!

The mandate of universities and several other higher institutions of learning to produce graduates “not only worthy in learning but also character”, has become futile and seemingly infeasible. Car parks of Nigerian Campuses are now “decorated” with several automobiles owned by some students, which the Vice-Chancellor dare not dream of acquiring, at least for fear of the anti-graft agencies. Highly extravagant lives to lure the few good ones we still have on campuses is on the rise.

Succinctly put, unemployment of any sort is not an excuse for engaging in cybercrime at whatever level; several other youths are engaging in productive ventures, boosting the economic prosperity and fortune of the nation. No doubt, we cannot rule out the several economic hardships faced by Nigerian youths in the quest for survival. However, surviving through a means detrimental to the good existence of another person is also not only unacceptable but also criminal and inimical to global harmony.

On a final note, we are faced with the reality of electing between the “two choices of evil” – whether to revert to the known “crime of destruction” by waging total war against cybercrime, at least to save the little reputation we still have; or adapt to the new system of perceived “economic prosperity” embarked upon by some of our youths and enjoy the little relative peace we have on our campuses. This is a question for all of Us!

Opeyemi Oladimeji is a Graduate Research Fellow at the Department of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, National Open University of Nigeria, Osogbo Study Centre, & Convener of the Future Builders Initiative (FBI).

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