Parade of 7 Year Old Boy for Cybercrime by EFCC is Indecorous and ill-conceived: HURIWA:

*Express worry over hasty generalisation by EFCC boss on undergraduates and cybercrimes:

The media parade of the 7-year-old boy Victor Oche Odeh, who has now has been reportedly convicted by the Kaduna State high Court based on his prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on June 26, has been described as disconcerting, indecorous, and ill-conceived.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), said this in a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, made available to NIM.

The Rights group also described the recent report that the head of EFCC said 7 out of 10 Nigerian undergraduates may be involved in cybercrimes, as undue demonisation of youngsters in Nigeria which must never be encouraged.

HURIWA questioned the rationale behind charging a 7-year- old child in the same regular court with adults when the anti-corruption agency could have conducted more investigations to ascertain whether the child was bullied by the adults to participate in the fraud for which the child has now been convicted in Kaduna.

“The National Assembly needs to work out a law to make it obligatory that children who are in conflict with the law are not unduly exposed and demonised. It is absolutely inappropriate to parade a child for a crime known to have been initiated by adults. To rub salt into injury, the media parade of this little boy is tantamount to psychologically damaging the reputation of this boy for life which is unfair, illegal and wicked. We don’t condone crimes but we believe that such a child ought not to have been so recklessly exposed even when the EDCC was pursuing justice for the victims of the reprehensible crimes.”

“Victor, alongside four other undergraduates, Chidebere Stanley Opara, Manasseh Sefa Ephraim, Chukwukere Obinna Paul, and Enyogu Etim Ekpo were reportedly found guilty on separate one-count charges related to internet fraud.

HURIWA also recalled a report stating that “the convictions were secured by the Kaduna Zonal Command of the EFCC, and Justice Darius Khobo of the Kaduna State High Court presided over the sentencing.

“The charges stemmed from a sting operation conducted in Kaduna, revealing the group’s elaborate scheme of Creating false identities on various social networking sites to defraud unsuspecting victims, particularly foreigners.

“Specifically, the 7-year-old was accused of cheating by impersonation, presenting himself as Christopher Anderson, a white man from Denver, Colorado, USA, on Facebook.

“The fraudulent activities occurred between January and July 2023.
“His conviction, under Section 57 of the Kaduna State Penal Code Law 2017, is punishable under Section 309 of the same Law.

While reacting to the media display of the photo of such a juvenile and the fact that he was prosecuted in the same criminal court as adults, HURIWA stated that the media exposure of such a young boy was a clear manifestation that Nigeria is getting it wrong with the practice, and queried why the identity of the child was not hiden given his young age, noting that EFCC had ruined the boy’s reputation and could psychologically and emotionally traumatise the boys for a ong time.

The Human Rights Writers Association said in most legal jurisprudence and jurisdictions such as in the United Kingdom, juveniles and children alleged to have committed a crime are not exposed in the media.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has been cautioned to be circumspect in dealing with the combating of alleged cybercrimes by youngsters in Univisties just as the Rights group dismissed as a hasty generalisation and an incurable fallacy, the recent statement allegedly made by the anti-corruption Boss, Mr Olukoyede while speaking recently with a delegation from Daar Communication PLC at EFCC headquarters in Jabi, Abuja, in which the EFCC boss disclosed that 7 out of ten undergraduates in Nigeria may be doing cybercrimes.

Media report stated that Mr Olukoyede had described internet-related crimes as a menace and cankerworm in society.
“It is worrisome that seven out of 10 students today are involved in cyber crimes,” he stated, indicating that 70 per cent of Nigerian university students are estimated to be involved in internet fraudulent practices.

The EFCC boss decried the number of students trained to be leaders of tomorrow engaging in internet fraud. He called on the media to assist in enlightening the Nigerian youths to refrain from cybercrimes.

HURIWA noted that the sort of stereotypes publicised by the EFCC for the consumption of the global followers of development in Africa, is absolutely unacceptable and has graphically profiled Nigerian students as criminals, just as the Rights group said the belated debunking of an unambiguous position on the students in Nigeria which was posted on the social media page of the anti-graft commission is offensive and despicable.

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