President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday pledged increased support for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in raising its capacity to tackle digital offences.
This was as he deplored what he termed “mislabelling and blanket stereotyping” of Nigeria as a country with the highest prevalence of cybercrime and other forms of corrupt practices among its population.
Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, gave the assurance during a public engagement on youth, religion and the fight against corruption, as well as the launch of the inter-faith manual and fraud risk assessment project for MDAs at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
The event organised by the EFCC is a multi-dimensional stakeholders’ involvement in the fight against economic and financial crimes.
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Communications, Stanley Nkwocha, revealed details of Wednesday’s discourse in a statement titled, ‘President Tinubu decries labelling, blanket stereotyping of Nigerians over cybercrimes.’
The President reasoned that such stereotypes undermine the majority of citizens who uphold integrity and diligence.
Underscoring the urgency of combating internet crimes and neutralising the threat caused by other forms of corruption head-on, he assured the anti-graft agency of “the government’s support in its quest to combat these digital offenses, adding that, “We must recognise that the Commission’s lawful efforts to bring fraudsters to book are imperative for the overall well-being of our society.”
“The government is aware that our ambitious goal of eradicating internet offenses and corruption demands an atmosphere steeped in trust and integrity. We must foster open communication channels and ensure that law enforcement actions align with justice and accountability,” he explained.
He regretted that over the years, the entire Nigerian populace had been linked with internet crimes without statistical proof, a development he said is out of tune with the way of life of the typical Nigerian.
On the contrary, Nigerians are meticulous, authentic citizens who have been making significant contributions to innumerable fields of endeavours around the world, he observed.
Delivering his speech titled, ‘Youth, Religion, and Our Battle Against Corruption: A Call to Action,’ Tinubu stated, “Over the decades, Nigerians have been victims of mislabelling. Such gross misrepresentation fails to reflect the true essence of our diverse and resilient nation.
“The association of internet crimes with the entire Nigerian populace lacks statistical evidence and does not align with the sociology of everyday Nigerians. Our nation comprises hardworking, honest citizens who contribute significantly to various fields globally, from Artificial Intelligence to medicine.
“While we reject blanket stereotyping that undermines the majority upholding principles of integrity and diligence, we must face the fact that we function in an interconnected world where cybercrimes have evolved into a global phenomenon. This poses a threat not only to our nation but to the entire world.”
He applauded the EFCC for “remaining a moral compass, persistently rousing the nation’s conscience,” saying through its operations, the commission has remained vocal in “telling the world that Nigeria is neither complicit nor complacent in confronting the menace of corruption”.
Tinubu also reminded Nigerian youths of the abundant lawful opportunities for enterprises within and outside the country.
This, he argued, is the reason his administration has moved to establish a Students Loan Board to address the financial needs of students.
Of the scheme, which the government says begins in January, he said, “This initiative aims not only to alleviate financial burdens but also to disincentivise criminality by offering a tangible alternative.
“Our message to the youth is clear: the horizon is wide, and opportunities abound across various sectors. Seize these prospects, embark on lawful enterprises, and let your talents shine.
“The government encourages you to leverage these opportunities, exhibit your capabilities across all sectors, and contribute to the prosperity of our great nation.”
President Tinubu lauded the EFCC’s efforts to tackle corruption through the Inter-Faith and Fraud Risk Assessment Projects, saying the “initiative recognises the potential of religion as a tool for ethical reformation and underscores the importance of engaging diverse faith communities in our fight against corruption.”
Therefore, he urged religious leaders to demonstrate guidance in championing the anti-corruption cause.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of EFCC, Mr Ola Olukoyede, said the launch of the interfaith manuals and the Fraud Risk Assessment Project for MDAs would help to engage relevant and critical stakeholders in its reinvigorated anti-corruption fight.
Olukoyede, who decried the prevalence of cybercrime and related activities involving youths, also lamented the involvement of religious organisations in illicit activities, including money laundering.
Consequently, he urged leaders across different groups to partner with the commission by propagating messages that glorify the virtues of integrity, honesty and hard work.
In his goodwill message, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, emphasised the significance of paying more attention to preventive measures in the renewed fight against corruption.
In separate remarks, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Daniel Okoh; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, commended President Tinubu and the EFCC management for the administration’s avowed commitment to battle corruption in Nigeria.
Also present were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Sen. Emmanuel Udende, who represented the Senate President; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu; Chairperson of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Lilian Salami; Chairman of Channels TV, Mr John Momoh; Former Minister of Works & Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, and some heads of government agencies and parastatals, among others.