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The Need for Telcoms to Exempt Educational Resources from Data Charges

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By Joel Popoola

Data is a luxury many families cannot afford but education is a necessity for Nigeria.

Telecommunications firms must make exempt educational resources from data charges.

The Nigerian government has announced that schools will reopen in the next phase of easing the Covid-19 lockdown.

But for many children, nothing will change.
According to the United Nations, 10.5 million of our 5 to 14 year-old are not in school.

One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is a Nigerian.

And that was before COVID-19.

These figures shame us.

It must be acknowledged that no other nation faces the challenges we do when it comes to tackling this problem.

In some areas, economic barriers – the need for children to work to support their families – make education financially impossible for families. In others, school attendance is actively discouraged, especially for girls. In others, there is the impact of insurgencies which, according to the United Nations, have destroyed almost 500 classrooms and left another 1400 badly damaged.

But we can go some of the way to addressing the educational impact of these vast challenges with technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic is turning existing educational gaps into gulfs, but it is also revolutionising digital and online education across the world, as lessons move online.

But in Nigeria, many homes are not equipped to adapt to these new methods of learning.

This can mean that kids who currently can’t keep up with their peers may never catch up. This in turn means that Nigeria will continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus for long after the pandemic is over.

Long term, we need to ensure our children benefit from an education worth having, one which young people are prepared for the workplace of the future, whether that means embedding basic digital skills in every area of the curriculum, and putting higher level digital expertise at the heart of our national skills ambitions.

But we need to take action now to ensure children already lagging are not left behind and forgotten forever by the current crisis.

That means Telecommunications firms must exempt educational resources from data charges.

Hardware is not the problem. Within four years, roughly two-thirds of Nigerians will use a smartphone. But while wealthier Nigerian families have reliable and affordable access to the internet, millions of Nigerians cannot receive home lessons as they cannot afford to buy enough data to access the internet.

It is within Nigeria’s grasp to become Africa’s first truly digital democracy, starting with universal broadband. But that takes time and money. And we need action now.
This is why telecommunications firms must exempt educational resources from data charges

If not, Nigeria risks a lost generation of students, at a time we can least afford it.
People before Profit!

As founder of the Digital Democracy campaign, I know the impact digital connectivity can have when it comes to improving our political system.

Our free Rate Your Leader app is designed to allow registered voters to directly contact their local politicians – building trust, transparency and accountability, and allowing a two-way flow of information which educates and benefits both parties.
All of this is done with the touch of a smartphone button from the comfort of the home.

We can use the same process for education, connecting teachers with students who cannot leave their homes due to the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, cultural practices or conflict, and safely and effectively giving children the learning resources to build a better future for themselves and for our nation.

But that needs data. Data is a luxury many families cannot afford. Education is a necessity Nigeria cannot progress without.

As a matter of urgency, the Minister of Communication, Dr Isa Patami, should encourage both indigenous and non-indigenous telecommunication providers to play their part to help millions of Nigerian children cross the digital divide and to kickstart our economic recovery. If they do not, Dr Patami should consider compelling them to.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, the continent’s largest producer of oil and will have a bigger population than America within 30 years – and yet 40% of us live in poverty.

This will never change unless we equip the next generation to face the challenges, and seize the opportunities of the twenty-first century.

With one simple action, our telecommunications firms can put us on the path to achieving that today.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and is the creator of the free Rate Your Leader app. You can reach Joel on +447920178732, joel@rateyourleader.com or Twitter @JOPopoola

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PCP Congratulates Obaseki, Edo People on ‘Deserved’ Victory

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By Eric Elezuo

The People’s Coalition Party  (PCP) has congratulated the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the people of Edo State for the victory at polls during the just concluded governorship election.

The party’s message was contained in press statement signed by its chairman, Don Anthony Harmattan, and made available to PointBlank.ng.

The chairman noted that the victory has demonstrated the resilience of the Edo people and that votes must count in elections

“It is a demonstration of the will of the people to actualizing their dreams in the midst of oppressors, money bags and Political God fathers who take advantage of the weakness of Nigerians to rig their protegees and stooges into office. This election has proven that when people are united and resolute, no one can take their mandate away from them. Indeed it is a victory for our democracy,” the statement read.

The PCP sees Obaseki’s victory as an eye opener to what may likely happen in 2023 while asking Nigerians to tie the line of Edo People in flushing out politics based on godfatherism.

“I wish to let Nigerians know that with this defeat of oppression, extortion and God fatherism in Edo State, 2023 will be a year of victory for Nigerians. Nigerians must unite and toe the part of the Edo People to defend their votes,” the statement said.

The chairman also commended President Muhammadu Buhari ‘for being the first to congratulate Obaseki’ and encourage others to do likewise.

“Together, our democracy will be stronger and yield dividends for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion,” the statement concluded.

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Akin Fadeyi Foundation, ABUAD in New Partnership Against Rape, Cyberbully

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Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti has partnered a non-governmental organisation, Akin Fadeyi Foundation, to fight sexual-based violence and cyberbullying.

The partnership was unveiled in a statement on Friday jointly signed by ABUAD Students’ Affairs Officer, Mr Babatunde Wahab, a lecturer at the institution, Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel, and the Founder/Executive Director, Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Mr Akin Fadeyi.

The statement is titled, ‘Afe Babalola partners FlagIt App to combat rape and cyberbully.’

Speaking on behalf of ABUAD President and Chancellor, Chief Afe Babalola, as well as the institution’s management, Wahab commended AFF’s FlagIt App for helping to contain the menace of sexual abuse and cyberspace criminality in general.

The FlagIt App is a mobile application developed by AFF to report corruption, particularly the activities of rapists and cyberbullies in society.

ABUAD decried that criminality among the youth was growing at an alarming rate, noting that emerging criminal tendencies and trends were being enabled by advancement in Information and Communications Technology and a corruption-ridden larger society.

“This is why we are excited to see the confidence and speed with which FlagIt rose to the occasion in support of the victims, who are now on the road to getting the needed closure and justice,” Wahab said.

“The onerous task you perform as well as the great efforts which you put into it have been experienced first-hand with your recent involvement in cases of coordinated cyberbullying attacks launched by some unscrupulous persons against some female students of our institution.”

Wahab extolled the manner the AFF and its FlagIt were handling the documentation of criminal tendencies and persons, offering at the same time ready evidence in the pursuit of justice.

“It is in view of the aforementioned that I, in my capacity as Students’ Affairs Officer together with my partner, Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel, who specialises among others in gender-based oppression and exploitation of women/girls shall be glad to partner with your foundation to stem the rising tide of criminal offences, especially domestic violence, sexual assaults and all forms of cybercrime within and outside ABUAD,” he said.

In his remarks, Fadeyi described the partnership with ABUAD as “a very exciting development.”

He said, “Since we launched the FlagIt App as a mobile application to report corruption, we’ve been uncovering the nefarious activities of rapists and cyberbullies in our society. This has been accompanied by such audacious impudence of trading with or threatening to expose explicit pictures of victims who attempt to resist the pressure of blackmail. This is another troubling element of our systemic decay as a nation that we have confronted swiftly.

“This partnership with Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti bears testimony to the traction our activities have gained and we indeed commend the Chancellor, Aare Afe Babalola; the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Smaranda Olarinde, the Students’ Affairs Officer, Mr Babatunde Wahab, and Dr Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel for their unwavering commitment to working with us to stamp out gender-based violence and exploitation of women/girls in ABUAD and the nation as a whole.”

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How Hushpuppi laundered U.S. Unemployment Benefits – FBI

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Fresh evidence from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has revealed how Ramon Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram sensation, was involved in laundering unemployment benefits meant for citizens of the United States.

The scheme is one of the insurance programmes provided for workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. The joint state-federal programme provides cash benefits to these workers.

Hushpuppi, who was arrested in UAE over money laundering and cyber fraud allegations, is currently facing charges in the U.S.

He is accused of facilitating computer intrusion, Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering and has been arraigned in an American court in California. His trial begins on October 13.

He pleaded not guilty to the four counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Nevertheless, in the affidavit filed on September 14, with the United States District Court, Central District of California, Andrew John Innocenti, an FBI agent trained on foiling cybercrime indicted Mr Abbas in the outcome of his investigation.

Mr Innocenti said he discovered that Hushpuppi, using his email address, registered on a website whizzlog.com (“Whizzlog”) which is a marketplace for buying US Bank Logs and money laundering.

He said although, based on his training, sophisticated cybercriminals do not use their personal email address in registering on such websites but Hushpuppi did.

“ABBAS email address contained registration contamination from Whizz Log. It also contained numerous confirmations and receipts of bank logs he purchased. One of such messages read “Your order was successful. You have purchased (the “Financial Institution”) bank log with a balance of $9,839.44. Purchase Price: $955. The bank log details are in your account. Login to your Whizz Log account to view.”

“From the example above. I observed ABBAS buys a bank log with a balance of over S9,000 for as low as $900. This prompted me to visit the website whizzlog.com for more findings.”

After creating an account, the FBI agent discovered that Whizz Log sells only accounts which have been used to claim unemployment benefits. “Hackers who have claimed unemployment benefits of victims in the United States sell them off in bulk on Whizz Log.”

The prices of bank logs on Whizz Log range from $600 to S1,000 and balance in accounts sold ranges from $4,000 to as high as $12,000, he noted.

For easier payment, the bank logs are available for purchase instantly and payment is made using Bitcoin.

“Cyber criminals who purchase the bank logs can launder the money off through various means. The favorite means on Whizz Log is to buy Bitcoins with the balance in the bank log Whizz Log specifies if a bank log is “BTC Compatible” or not.

“Based on my training and experience, a bank account is “BTC Compatible” if you can buy Bitcoins from within the bank log. Some banks allow clients to directly purchase Bitcoins from their online bank account. Such banks are “BTC Compatible”. A buyer of a “BTC Compatible” bank log would login to the account, navigate to services provided by the bank and select to buy Bitcoins. He can use the whole balance in the account to buy Bitcoins. The Bitcoins will be sent to the criminal within minutes.”

While going through one of the bank accounts bought on the website, Mr Innocenti found that the account was recently opened.

“All the credits into the account were from the Department of Unemployment Assistance totaling $7,302.15,” he stated.

Since Mr Abbas had pleaded that he should be prosecuted with complaints rather than a grand jury indictment, this new evidence will be added to the previous ones.

If found guilty and convicted, the popular Instagram sensation could spend the next 20 years in prison.

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