Nigeria: Social Media Used to Incite Violence During #EndSARS Protests - NSA

29 October 2020

The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno, has said the social media was used as a tool to disseminate subversive content to incite violence during the #EndSARS protests which reverberated across the country.

He stated this on a day the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, declared cyber-terrorism as the most precarious challenge facing Nigeria at present.

Monguno, who spoke at the multi-stakeholders workshop for the validation of the draft national cybersecurity policy and strategy 2020, organized by his office in Abuja, also attributed the rising cases of terrorism, fake news, and other criminal activities to cyberspace.

Recalling how the social media escalated the #EndSARS protest in the last few weeks, the NSA said in his keynote address: "We are witnesses to the escalation in the use of social media to disseminate subversive content to incite violence and heightened tension, causing unrest and sparking widespread looting and destruction across the country."

He disclosed that the Federal Government would soon unveil the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, NCPS, 2020 to check digital threats and enhance national security and economic growth for the over 200 million population of Nigeria.

Monguno said the government had been proactive to develop policies that will check threats from the use of cyberspace, adding that his office inaugurated a multi-stakeholders committee on September 10, 2020, to review the NCPS 2014.

He noted that the review was to strengthen the existing cyber policy as stipulated that it should be reviewed every five years.

"Our country is currently at a turning point in its history, a significant section of our population of over 200 million people are young and entrepreneurial, we are also witnessing a rapid rise in our adoption of the internet in our daily lives.

"There is no gainsaying that cyberspace has become an engine for the enhancement of Nigeria national security, economic transformation and national development," Monguno said.

He, however, noted that the sophistication of cyberspace comes with inherent challenges, saying "the threats posed by cyber terrorists, and the use of the internet has brought social media circulation of hate speech and seditious messages; it is almost impossible to overstate the challenges."

In his remarks, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, who declared cyberterrorism as the most precarious challenge facing Nigeria at present attributed the rising cases of terrorism, fake news, and other criminal activities to cyberspace.

The CDS lamented that the cyberspace had been the main warfare after lands, sea, air and space since it has no boundary and does not obey conditional rules in warfare.

Olonisakin, who was represented by Air vice Marshal Charles Oghonwen, the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans at the Defence Headquarters, added that cyberspace was being used to facilitate various terrorist activities, such as recruitment, training, propaganda, intelligence gathering and fundraising.

He said: "Considering the rapid and constant evolution of the cyberspace, it is, therefore, imperative that this document will reduce at this time as initiated by the office of the NSA.

"Cyberspace has been the main warfare after the lands, sea, air and space has no boundary and hence does not obey conditional rules in warfare.

"It remains open to exploitation buy state actors, organized syndicates, sects, criminals and terrorists. Cyber terrorism has become the most precarious challenge facing us today as a nation.'

"The use of cyberspace to facilitate various terrorist activities, such as recruitment, training, propaganda, intelligence gathering and fundraising, cyber terrorism is now globally recognised as the fundamental threat to global security.

"The Armed Forces of Nigeria are not also immune to this menace of cyber threat. That awareness made me establish the Defence Cyber Operation Centre under the Defence Space Administration.

"Ït enables this house to safeguard the cyberspace for the Armed Forces of Nigeria operations and other security agencies."

The Chairman of the NCPS 2014 Review Committee, Mr Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, said if cyberspace was not regulated as exemplified in recent time with fake news in the social media, it could result in civil unrest.

"The current draft document is a result of multi-stakeholder efforts with due cognizant of a whole of society approach while leveraging technology for the well-being of Nigeria and for Nigerians," he said.

In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Hassan Ibrahim Hadejia, said for the first time in a long while, Nigeria was taking the issue of cybercrime very seriously.

VANGUARD

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