Culled from Thisday-

Online Trading and shopping come with lots of economic gains for countries and their citizens, but often times they pose some forms of security risks. Extra caution should be taken during online transacting Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce), which is the bedrock for online shopping, which has opened vista of opportunities for several Nigerians who sit in the comfort of their homes and offices to shop online and get the goods and services delivered to them. Those who shop online have attested to the fact that it is convenient, safe, and time saving. For them, it is the best thing E-Commerce has brought to Nigeria. Although online trading and shopping come with lots of advantages, they also come with its own security risk. However, such risks could be reduced or totally eliminated if caution and strict adherence to the guidelines of online are observed to the latter. While most families will want to continue with online transactions because of its many benefits, some families who are victims of online transaction, will see it as a threat to lives and businesses. The family of Orekoya, residing in Surulere, Lagos is one of those few Nigerians that will have phobia transacting online because of the tragedy that hit the family last week. Mrs. Orekoya, a career woman, needed a domestic worker to work for her as a nanny. She uploaded the information on the OLX platform, where buyers and sellers meet online to transact business. A lady with ulterior motive took advantage of the information on the OLX platform and applied for the job. The transaction was concluded online and the nanny resumed work but absconded with her employer’s three children on her first day of resumption. The children are six years, four years and eleven months old respectively. The nanny and her syndicates are demanding N15 million as ransom, which was later reduced to N13 million, after much pleading from the confused mother of the three children.

The Issues      

Most technology experts who spoke on the issue, blamed the situation on the inability of the career woman to do the necessary background and security checks before employing a nanny that she did not know her history. President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma said it is an unfortunate online transaction, advising that not all transactions should be done online for security reasons. “Search for domestic staff should not be done online, because it involves security details of the persons involved and the employer must have every detail of the person before the employment,” Uduma said.

Most Nigerians, according to her, need education on awareness and sensitization about online transactions because of the security implications that come with it. She said NIRA has already set up a foundation for online awareness creation and sensitization that will be launched in Lagos next month. The focus of the foundation is to expose Nigerians to the gains, risks and abuses of online transactions, with the intention to make Nigerians knowledgeable when carrying out online transaction with anybody. She, however blamed most online theft and vulnerability on lack of a central database for the country. She has therefore, called on the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the Government agency that is responsible for the registration and production of national identity cards for Nigerians, to expedite action in revalidating all existing databases to the NIMC database in order to create a single and central database of identity information of every Nigerian. According to her, if that is achieved, it will become easier for security agents to demand for the security details of suspected people or even login theirs details to trace and track people suspected to be criminals, like the case of the nanny that absconded with the three children.

Economic Imperatives

In spite of the unfortunate incident, most technology experts still insist that online transaction is best for Nigeria because of its many gains. Mrs. Yinka Akinwunmi, an online shopper who spoke with THISDAY on the issue, said E-Commerce has come to stay in Nigeria, because of the comfort associated with it. “I can sit in the comfort of my home and office and shop online. I can also do other transactions online and it has saved me a lot of stress in buying items from the physical market,”Akinwunmi said. Another E-Commerce expert, Tunde Babalola, who looked at the gains of E-Commerce in Nigeria, said it has opened a lot of opportunities for Nigerians who make use of the internet facilities to upload their goods and services online and have expanded their businesses through that means. “Small businesses that were not known before have eventually turned into well-known businesses, with expanded customer base, just because the businesses were uploaded online. Mini traders have become big time traders just because they uploaded their businesses online for several millions of people to have access to the business,” Babalola said. “We have seen businesses grow online and I want to maintain that online transactions and trading are the best form of business for Nigerians,” he added.

Risk Implications

Although several advantages have been attributed to online transactions, it however come with some risk that must be handled with care. The case of children theft on OLX platform is not the first time for OLX, since its inception in 2012. In December 2014, OLX recorded a similar incidence where transaction was concluded on the OLX platform, and few months later, the nanny ran away with her employer’s child. Some Nigerians have lost businesses worth millions of naira through online transactions, while several others have also lost goods worth millions of naira. In some cases, people even lost their lives and make wrong choice of business partners from online platforms. Such are the hazards of online shopping, which is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is therefore important to comply with security guidelines in every online transaction, and it is equally important for people to apply safety measures when dealing with unknown persons online.



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