The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, has revealed that the commission has convicted more than 288 persons over sundry Internet crimes.
Lamorde also disclosed that four fugitives were extradited to the United States of America and another 234 cases are still being prosecuted in courts across the country.
Lamorde disclosed these at the EFCC Academy, Karu-Abuja on Monday at the opening of a three-day conference with the theme: Regional Cooperation Against Internet-based Transnational Fraud, organised by the commission in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police.
Lamorde also disclosed that counterfeit financial instruments seized by the commission, in collaboration with the Nigeria Postal Service, stood at $24,213,208; £858,937; €1,195,218,214.
The EFCC chairman, who acknowledged the challenges being faced by various countries in the West African sub-region in the fight against Internet crime, stated: “We must collaborate to at least survive the onslaught and then fight back from the position of strength conferred by pooled resources, shared intelligence, joint operations and other efforts such as this.”
He paid tribute to all those who had, in one way or the other, contributed to the successful fight against Internet crime, especially the legislative arm of government that had provided a strong legal framework, the judiciary and the banking sector.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, while declaring the conference open, said that Nigeria is leading the fight against cybercrime and other economic and financial crimes in West Africa and across the world.
Adoke, who expressed appreciation to the government of Australia, whose Police is collaborating with EFCC in organising the conference, stated that by its efforts in combating cybercrime over the years, Nigeria cannot be justifiably described as a ‘419’ nation.
He said: “While we cannot deny the involvement of some Nigerians in these unwholesome practices, we vehemently reject the tendency on the part of nationals of some countries, even within ECOWAS sub-region, to label Nigeria as a 419 nation.”
He said that Nigeria and Nigerians do not condone such nefarious activities being perpetrated by a few people and had, in an effort to curb the menace, put in place requisite legal and institutional frameworks to deal with cybercrime.
“Our law enforcement agencies have recorded giant strides in the enforcement of these laws as evidenced by the increased arrest, prosecution and conviction of Internet fraud related offences recorded monthly,” Adoke stressed.
The minister also reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of all United Nations Conventions and protocols in the fight against transnational organised crimes.
In her remarks, the Special Envoy of the Australian Prime Minister to West Africa, Ms. Joanna Hewitt, said she was greatly pleased to attend the conference, which she described as indicative of her government’s growing links with Nigeria in recent times.
Hewitt disclosed that Nigeria is Australia’s second most important trading partner in Africa and that her country is elated to see that Nigeria has been taking giant developmental strides.
“These strides suggest a future hope of better days ahead, which we are seeing in other countries like China that eventually emerged as economic powers in the late nineties,” she said.
Hewitt, who revealed several collaborative initiatives between Nigeria and Australia in the areas of mining, agriculture and education, said that the economies of the two countries were similar, hence the need to interface in combating challenges like cybercrime, which emerge as a result of these commonalities.
Speaking also at the occasion, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Ian McConville, praised Nigeria for taking up the challenge of fighting cybercrime not only in West Africa but globally.
McConville said this informed the resurgence of collaboration across several sectors between Nigeria and Australia in recent times.
He charged participants to go beyond listening to papers presented to building partnerships, adding: “We will like to be your partner in institutional capacity building, especially as it concerns this intractable problem of cybercrime.
“But I urge all of you to promote, even as our governments are doing, people to people linkages and partnerships, which is what this engagement is part of.”
Participants for the conference, which ends on Wednesday, are drawn from Niger, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Togo, Cote De Voire, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Guinea and Nigeria.