The House of Representatives has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission to ensure that all mobile network operators in Nigeria have an application that allows parents to track the online activities of their children whenever they are online.
The House also urged the NCC to ensure that all MNOs in the country engage in sensitisation of children and parents on online child exploitation and the accompanying dangers, as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility.
The House further urged the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to develop a policy framework to promote education advocacy on online crimes and child exploitations in Nigeria.
A member, Bamidele Salam, had moved a motion at the plenary on Tuesday to raise the alarm over child exploitation on the Internet. The motion was titled ‘Need to Curb Online Crimes and Child Exploitation in Nigeria’.
Moving the motion, Salam noted that Nigeria had about 99.05 million internet users in 2020 and was projected to grow to 131.7 million in 2023 as the country (arguably) remains the only country with the highest number of smartphones penetration in the world.
He further notes that in 2020, internet penetration in Nigeria amounted to 46.6 per cent of the population and was set to reach 65.2 per cent in 2025.
The lawmaker noted that crimes, anti-social and harmful acts like killings, kidnappings, internet scams, cyberbullying, grooming, luring and sexual exploitation are being committed daily via mobile devices as part of the accompanied threats of digital/technological innovation in Nigeria.
Salam said, “The House is also aware that online child grooming has become a growing source for concern as minors are lured into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution and production of child pornography through online grooming.”
“The House is disturbed that in 2016, the Internet Watch Foundation identified 57,000 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), the web addresses containing child sexual abuse materials;
“The House also observes that the closure of schools and other COVID–19 related restrictions have increased the number of time children spend online for educational and social purposes, which have invariably increased the vulnerability of children falling victims to sexual exploitation;
“The House is also disturbed that no decisive steps have been taken to curb the prevalence of online crimes despite reported cases, which include the case of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu who was lured from her residence in Abuja via Facebook chat and killed in a hotel in Lagos, in 2012; Favour Oladele, a 300 Level undergraduate of the Department of Theatre Art, Lagos State University, was gruesomely murdered on December 8, 2019 at Ikoyi IIe in Osun State, among others.
“The House is concerned that there are several unreported cases of missing persons, rape and other related crimes through mobile devices connectivity and social media platforms.
“The House is cognisant that the online crimes and child exploitations are largely preventable through the creation of an application/solution by MNOs which allows parents and guardians to track online activities, location, calls, SMS, WhatsApp, and other internet activities of their children and wards;
“The House believes that only MTN out of all operators in Nigeria has an application/solution (MTN Impulse powered by Kaspersky) which, upon payment of a monthly subscription of N250.00, allows parents to track and monitor the activities of their children online.”