CYBERCRIME, SOCIAL MEDIA, CUSTOMS AND THE NIGERIA TRADE-HUB

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

By AMB. Abdulrazaq O Hamzat

The Nigeria Customs Services on the 13th of August, 2013 showed the
Nigerian government and other government agencies the right way to
address the risks associated with the social media in conducting
government businesses using the medium when it organized a Workshop on
Customs and Social media, highlighting the risks and benefits.

The Nigeria Customs also used the opportunity of the gathering to
introduce THE NIGERIA TRADE-HUB (http://www.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng/),
an introduction to international business in Nigeria. The Trade-hub is
a mainly portal meant to for Nigerian and international business men
and women doing import and export to get correct information to enable
them make decisions about doing business in Nigeria and outside the
country.

Before we go into the details of the Nigeria Trade Hub, let me divert
a little to talk about cybercrime and the social media.

It is true that the advantages and benefits of the social media far
surpasses it disadvantages, this is evident if one takes a look at the
increasing success stories of social media practitioners, ranging from
people who had secured jobs through this medium, to those that meet
old school mates, get business connections, secure admission through
social interaction, hook up with lovers and many goodies too numerous
to mention. But apart from this set of beneficiaries of the social
media, there are others who had equally benefitted through other
means.

For example, in a popular testimony story across the U.S, It was
stated that, the reason why Barrack Obama won the U.S presidential
elections in 2008 and 2012 respectively were because he made
appropriate use of the social media more than his opponents. While
Obama effectively utilized the social media in the build up to the
2008 U.S presidential election, his opponent John MCaine didn’t. He
took the social media with less importance and he paid dearly for it
because it greatly influenced the outcome of the election in favour of
Barrack Obama.

Also in 2012 presidential election, although, Obama’s opponent Mitt
Romney had seen the effect of the social media and he also made
adequate use of it as Obama himself, but what counted in favour of
Barrack Obama was his list of social media contacts that was already
built in the previous elections.  While his opponent Mitt Romney was
busy building social media contacts to execute his online campaigns,
Barrack Obama was already engaging the already built list in his
previous elections. That made a slight difference in favour of Obama.

Coming down to Nigeria, the situation is not so different in terms of
political usage of the social media to achieve great accomplishments,
as the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan having realized the
importance of the medium took to the social media to declare his
ambition to run for the 2011 presidential election and it greatly
helped his campaign team to reach out to a considerable millions of
electorates which counted in his favour. But, just as President
Jonathan enjoyed the benefits of the social media, the risk associated
with the medium also catch up with him, as the same social media he
once enjoyed its benefits was equally used to mobilize Nigerians
against his policy to take to the street in January 2012 to protest
the removal of fuel subsidy which shut down the entire country for
some days. Till date, the President’s Image never recovers from that
damage.

President Jonathan himself recently noted that, he his the most abused
president in the world, but I recall that, the president was once the
most loved president on the social media, but suddenly, he became the
most abused president by the same people who had previously loved him.
What a social media.

What  i am saying in essence is that, the impact of the social cannot
be over emphasized, as this revelation simply point to the fact that,
no amount of money spent on image making on the traditional media can
counter the effect of the social media. Any wise establishment, be it
government or private shouldn’t think twice before engaging the social
media administrators and use their medium to their advantage.

It is important to state that, the adoption of social media for
government and private organizations became imperative to help tackle
the challenges of uncontrollable spread of information and the damages
it cause online and also, it could be used to further promote and
develop good public interaction and image making, as it seems very
obvious that we cannot stop the spread and flow of information on the
social media by the public, but we can influence and manage it to our
advantage.

The traditional media may be able to send information across to the
public, but the only place where the public dialogue, analyse and
conclude on the information received through the traditional media is
on the social media. In terms of getting adequate response in regards
to information released to the public, the traditional media would be
helpless, considering the fact that, in addition to spreading
information, interaction and making firm decision after online
discussion, the social media also creates its own news content and
spread it around to reach far more people.

It is worth to equally note that, it is on social media that the
people agree and disagree on issue, explain and analyse situations and
at the end, maintain a stand on the actions of government and its
agents or other social and political issues. The social media is where
images get damaged or get polished in recent times, and this is beyond
the scope of the traditional media. This explains the reason why the
traditional media also went partial electronics to stay in business.

However, as beneficial as the social media is, it is almost impossible
to come across anyone with access to social media that hadn’t come
across a prospective cybercrime tendency situation in form of scam
messages of love and auction, fake job offers and businesses,
fraudulent messages of humanitarian assistants and support for refugee
or victims of wars in some countries afar. And with the numerous
examples and personal experiences encountered, it is appropriate and
safe to conclude that, Cybercrime is not only real, but also a threat
to every social media user.

But as the saying goes, a child cannot be thrown away with the dirty
water. In as much as the social media is not only greatly important in
this 21st century, it is also inevitable for every business and
government establishments to fulfil its responsibilities and carry out
their businesses, but just like every other good thing in life, it
also has its negative sides.
It is in recognition of the importance of the social media and the
risks involved that the Nigeria Customs services under the leadership
of the Controller General Dikko inde Abdullahi, organized a workshop
to engage social media administrators to discuss means on how to
prevent users from being victims of fraud and cybercrime and I was
privileged to be at workshop.

At the workshop, Mr Wale Adeniyi, Customs Public relation officer
revealed that, countless fake Facebook accounts had been opened in the
name of the Nigeria Customs and the Controller General Dikko inde
Abdullahi to defraud innocent Nigerians seeking for jobs among other
things.

He listed some of the fake accounts on facebook which include:
1. Nigeria Customs Auction SALES Customs warehouse Badagry
2. Nigerian Customs Auction Gwangi Habib Street (Maiduguri, Borno State)
3. Nigeria Customs Auction, Auction House, Seme Boarder
4.  Nigeria Custom Service on Auction Cars
5. Customs Community page about Cars. NCS Babanawa barracks seme
6. Auction Customs, The Nigeria Customs Service Auction Outlet
7. Nigerian Customs Linked to – 6331 likes
Others are weblinks and websites which include:
1. http://www.nigeriacustomsgov.webbs.com Babanawa barracks seme Boarder
2.www.portharcourtcustomsauction.webs.com
3. http://www.classified.dailypost.com.ng (Nigeria Customs Authorized 2013 cars)
4. http://www.nigeriacarmart.com (Nig Customs Authorized 2013 cars & Trucks
Auction sales.

Mr Wale urged Nigerians to never patronize any of these pages, noting
that, the Nigerian Customs Service doesn’t sell recruitment forms
online; neither does it offer appointment letters via social media or
any other online platform.

The Customs PRO further explained that, the Scammers ploys are
numerous, but he gave the most prominent example.

Social media Fraudsters create fake Facebook accounts in the name of
the Controller-General of the Nigerian Customs, Dikko inde Abdullahi.

Job seekers or their friends and families are therefore deceived into
believing they are chatting with the ‘’Controller General of Customs
or other customs officers, they sometimes refer prospective victims to
another fake fraudulent officer in the supposed public relation Unit,
Human resource Department or any department of the service for job
employment in exchange for a certain fee which they sometimes call,
administrative or form fee.
The Custom PRO warned that, any discussion that will eventually lead
to a request that you pay some money into some private account is pure
scam. Don’t patronize them.
Many have been deceived, many have been scammed, but don’t be a mugu, be smart.
He also stated that, the Nigeria Customs service doesn’t conduct any
auction sales of vehicle or any goods via the social media or any
other social media platforms. Don’t be a mugu, think before you click.

Returning back to the trade hub, the trade hub provides information
about all the Nigerian regulatory agencies like NAFDAC, CUSTOMS,
NCC,NDLEA, SON and others along with their contact details, processes,
documents, fees and processing time that an importer and exporter will
need to liase with to obtain the necessary important permits,
documents and certificates required to ensure compliance.

The trade hub has various tools to help you get the right information
about your choice import or export business in Nigeria. It also have a
24/7 customer service live chat, where you can ask an officer for any
information you couldn’t find on the portal and this service is
absolutely free.

Tool of the Trade-Hub include, the HS Code classification tool, an
intuitive tool to assist importers with the correct classification of
their products for both import and export. Once the correct HS code
for an importation product is obtained, the tool provides necessary
regulatory information about the product including regulating
agencies, control measures, prohibition status, ETLS status depending
on the country of origin, documents requirements, related duties and
fees and processing times. For exports products, the exporter on
selection of the country of export is presented with the exportation
country’s market access information including the relevant HS code and
the rates of duty t will attract upon entry to the country. Other
useful tools include the duty and fees calculator, the CPC code
directory and the currency converter.

The Nigeria Customs had also created a Facebook account for the
trade-hub (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nigeria-Trade-Hub/195651647260022
), where it supplies daily useful information that would be helpful to
business men and women doing import and export, information like the
new trade and bilateral agreement between Nigeria and other countries,
reduction of export dues in certain countries and so on.

In conclusion, the Nigerian government and it various agencies should
approach the Nigeria Customs for directory on means to associate with
the social media administrators and positively engage them to use
their means to project good image of the country, assist security
agencies on suspects and spread helpful information to prevent
securities bridges.
They could assist in preventing the wide circulation of fake
government agencies websites and prevent scam; circulate the genuine
government agencies websites to ensure the fake once are revealed to
prevent defrauding innocent job seekers among other things.

This is the right way to go and not denying the existence of the
reality on the social media.

AMB. Abdulrazaq O Hamzat writes from Abuja and can be reached on
discus4now@gmail.ccom

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s