The ‘Hushpuppi Effect’ and why Nigerians are tired of being labelled as cyber criminals

Hushpuppi

Suspected Nigerian internet fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, has no doubt opened the channels up for discussion on cybercrime that thrives in Nigeria and perpetuated by Nigerians internationally. Hushpuppi was arrested for alleged wire fraud alongside his best friend Olalekan Ponle, alias Woodberry in Dubai. The actions of these two and the history of Nigerians and their ties to corruption even on the home ground have somehow created a certain identity for Nigerians in the world eye.

Before, Nigerians were arguably viewed as hard-working and resilient. Our impact was felt across the various fields in the world stage: world politics, economics, sports, and arts  – the veritable giant of Africa.

However, following Hushpuppi’s arrest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stiff measures were set in place against the many Nigerians living in the country as their actions also went further in tainting the identity of Nigerians to the world.

It would be interesting to know that while the authorities in the UAE have set up visa issuance policies targeted against Nigerians, many Nigerians are debating the impact of Hushpuppi’s alleged cyber crimes on Nigerians. The dominant argument is that Nigeria’s footprint in perpetuating cybercrime on a large scale can’t be compared with other countries. A ranking deeming the countries with the most cases of cybercrime has Nigeria missing on the top 20 with USA, China, and Germany sitting on the top three positions.

If Nigeria is missing in the list of the top 20 countries with the highest rate of cybercrime, why is the spotlight on Nigeria and Nigerians?

 

For many, the one impact that perpetrators of these crimes have on Nigerians is that it forms a stereotype, hampering the way Nigerians interact internationally through the facets of business, schooling, or merely just existing in social spaces. Nigerians are found everywhere, around the world, and this ubiquitous migration could be Nigeria always sustains a stereotyped profile of fraud, and scapegoated in the international community. Nigerians looking to escape the harsh economic realities of the country continue to be disillusioned, as the country’s cyber crime identity becomes ever more popular.

Social media may be another key factor affecting the narratives of Nigerians. While the accuracy of the list making rounds on Twitter has not been verified, it is quite preposterous for world nations and leaders to keep painting Nigeria as bad still engaging in that rhetoric.

 

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