With the release of over 80 Nigerian names by the FBI for internet fraud, with 78 being of the Igbo extraction, social media is awash with comments that seek to isolate the Igbos as the enhancers of international shame and opprobrium to Nigeria.
But crime has no tribe.
Within the country, the Yorubas & Benins have long been held out as the most probable culprits in instances of ‘419′ or Yahoo Yahoo, which explains in part why this new list has taken the Igbos to task.
Internet fraud, which is the use of the internet to deceive and defraud victims to part with money, has long been a negative index with a far reaching implication for Nigeria and Nigerians.
More countries are reluctant to grant travel visas to Nigerians, while those already out of the country deal with constant mistrust and negative labeling. Fewer business are doing business with Nigerian companies from fear of being scammed.
The crackdown of the Nigeria Police Force and the EFCC on cybercrimes is stunted by compromised officers/agents and a constantly evolving internet fraud complexity with these agencies behind in apprehension methods.
The debilitating social conditions and poor money culture means more youths continue to embrace internet fraud as a shortcut from poverty to wealth, believing in being able to keep their ill-gotten wealth by oiling the right fingers.
While it may seem trendy, it is indeed impolitic to hold the Igbos to sole account over an issue for which the world holds Nigeria responsible as a unit. Being a non-Igbo will not exempt a genuine Nigerian businessman from losing a deal over fears of a scam, being denied a visa, being racially and physically attacked or wielding an international passport with diminished potency all over the world.
Rather than play the tribal card, Nigerians and Nigeria would do well to recognize this as a national plight that demands concerted efforts in combatting. The Nigerian government must make cybercrime unattractive through the imposition of severe sanctions and the improvements of methods of apprehending fraudsters.
Also, by improving the economic situation of the country and engendering new social norms that frown at the celebration of ill-gotten wealth, while ridding the national consciousness of its money-culture with no consideration of the means to wealth, gains can be made in the fight against internet fraud and hopefully, redemption will be availed the Nigerian image before the international public.