1.I feel very gratified to be here today for this National Conference on ICT and Cybersecurity. This conference is a culmination of a great deal of work done in the last few months, especially by the Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, to help Nigeria develop a broad-based approach to strengthening cyber-security. It was only on the 23rd of May of this year that the Chairman of the Committee, Distinguished Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, moved the motion on the ‘Worrisome Dimension of Cyber Attacks and Criminality – (and the) Urgent Need for Concerted Efforts to Secure Nigeria’s Cyber Space’.

2.That motion was a response to the escalating rise in cyber-crime all over the world, Nigeria being no exception. It is widely believed that cyber-attacks reached unprecedented levels globally in 2016, with no sign of a downward trend. In recent times, we have seen the virulent use to which criminals and other shadowy agents have put the cyber space. The cyber ecosystem has been weaponised and manipulated to devastating effect – to undermine democratic processes, influence voting in elections, and whip up tension and divisions between societal groups. Over 200,000 cyber attacks were recorded in one single day earlier this year, all over the world. Major international financial institutions have had their systems crippled for up to 48 hours, after being targeted by criminals using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), among other methods. Not only do these attacks pose a threat to economic activity, the personal data of millions of people are compromised by cyber criminals who then demand the payment of ransom before hijacked data can be released.

3.Kidnapping, already a scourge in the Nigerian physical space, is also becoming a problem in the virtual realm, as ‘cyber-kidnapping’ of encrypted data poses a clear and present danger to our economic viability. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are endangered by phishing attacks – as is also the case with big organisations and financial institutions.

4.Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed ironic that while internet penetration in Nigeria is tentative at best, hovering at just over the 90 million people mark, a percentage of 47.7 per cent – internet-facilitated crime seems to be growing. Our cyber borders are very porous indeed. Some 450 million dollars was lost to 3,500 successful cyber attacks over a one year period – roughly 70 per cent of the overall hacking attempts in the country. Estimates suggest that the hole created in the economy by cyber-crime amounts to 0.08 per cent of the GDP – a loss of about 127 billion naira. This, needless to say, is unsustainable. It stands to reason, therefore, that efforts to revive our economy must necessarily include counter-measures to minimise these losses, and shore up our cyber-security architecture to better repel attacks.

5.Cyber-crime is like an ever-mutating monster, constantly growing new tentacles and taking on new formations. Not so long ago, one web-based Ponzi scheme succeeded in entrapping thousands of Nigerians, with promises of quick gains. Investors were left counting the costs when the bubble burst, while those responsible moved on to new pastures. There was no accountability, anywhere.

6.The cyber equivalent of the time-worn confidence trick, Ponzi schemes prey on the vulnerability and desires of people, causing them to disregard their natural sense of caution. In the event, victims unwittingly pass on confidential personal information such as bank details and other sensitive data. Ponzi websites themselves are often cyber booby-traps, rigged with malware that will attack the visitor’s computer.

7.Still on the mutability of cyber threats, some of you may recall that the last major Ponzi fever in Nigeria fizzled out in a hail of bitcoin – a crypto-currency exchanged anonymously on the internet. The operators stopped paying investors in naira, offering them bitcoin instead. However, crypto-currencies, being relatively new, are not subject to any local laws regulating their use. This is an internet grey area that impacts on real people in real time. I note that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission (NDIC) have set up a committee to look at the use of bitcoin in this country; and this is another matter for this conference to consider, as there is clearly a need to establish a framework for the regulation of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies.

8.Ladies and gentlemen, even as we note with relief Nigeria’s narrow escape during the worldwide ‘WannaCry’ ransomware cyber infestation of earlier this year, we must ask ourselves: how safe are we really? According to the Check Point Software Technologies Ltd August Global Threat Impact Index, Nigeria is one of the Top Ten countries most at risk of cyber-attack. Nigerian hackers are getting more sophisticated, even employing Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and Key-Loggers. Malware kits are being commercialized; there is an increase in cloud-based attacks. And as more and more devices such as Smart-TVs connect to the internet – the challenge becomes greater, and the risk, ever more so.

9.It was in light of all this that the Senate sounded the alarm with the motion in May, and resolved to, amongst other things, convene this national conference. It is essential that we come up with effective cyber-security management strategies based on existing legislative frameworks, while building on the work already being done by bodies like the Cybercrime Advisory Council. The ‘Stop. Think. Connect’ campaign initiative of the United States Mission to reduce cybercrime in Nigeria, also points to the need to share ideas and collaborate with international partners, to reduce the impact of the borderless crimes of cyber-space.

10.It is my sincere hope that, by the end of this national conference, we would have taken a significant step towards developing broad-based and pro-active measures that will help prevent and counter cyber-crime, so that we can deliver a cyber-secure future for Nigerians.

Thank you all.
God bless Nigeria.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections