NSA convenes advisory council meeting after outcry

What Nigeria's cybersecurity council is doing to fight threats -- NSA

The National Security Adviser, (NSA) Babagana Monguno, on Monday in Abuja convened a meeting of the Cybercrime Advisory Council in apparent response to concerns over its seeming inactivity over the years.

The council was set up in 2016 and tasked with checking rising cybercrimes and formulating programmes for implementing the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act 2015.

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how some experts had raised concerns over Nigeria’s inability to respond to possible cyberthreats, questioning the efficiency of the country’s lead advisory team and the management of its dedicated fund.

While Nigeria is yet to face a significant cyber attack, experts say the country does not need to wait until that happens before it takes action. They argue that with growing incidents of cybercrimes globally, structures put in place to address such threats need to be functional and funds judiciously used.

Concerns

The newspaper had reported concerns raised over the (in)efficiency of the council and the management of the multibillion naira cyber-security fund set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2018 which is funded by levies from online transactions made by Nigerians.

For instance, while the legislation mandates the council to meet four times a year, the council only met six times since they were constituted in 2016.

The last time the council met was on July 20, 2020. By the provisions of the law, the council should have met about 20 times at the time. There are also questions surrounding the lack of transparency in the management of the funds.

The CBN is yet to respond to requests from PREMIUM TIMES for information on the status of the funds including disbursement.

A member of the council, who had asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the council has not been serving the purpose for which it had been set up. The source said since the council has only been able to meet about six times since it was set up in 2016, its efficiency has been called to question “and members are not happy’’.

The NSA later responded to the news report in a lengthy piece outlining efforts being made to make the council functional and also battle imminent cyber-threats in Nigeria.

NSA bows to pressure

Sources said the NSA has since the report made moves to reactivate the council and make it more effective and efficient. He had also reportedly promised to hold regular meetings with the council as stipulated by the enabling act and also take actions transparently.

Mr Monguno on Monday took a step further by convening a meeting of the council which an aide of his said is the first in a series of actions to implement the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021, especially in the academia and educational sectors.

The meeting, the aide and sources said, was aimed at briefing the council on the steps taken so far to not only implement the strategy but also measures to protect the nation from cyber threats.

”An awareness and sensitisation workshop on the National Security Policy and Strategy 2021 is scheduled to take place at the end of September. The NSA summoned the meeting of the advisory council today (Monday) to brief them on the measures taken so far and programmes concerning the timelines in the NCPS 2021 and also brainstorm with them,” the aide told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday. ”In the next couple of months, the NSA will also be rolling out series of programmes specifically on the implementation of the strategy signed by Mr President recently and the public will be informed about these activities.”

Some of the initiatives that participants are expected to brainstorm on at the workshop include cybersecurity incident management, strengthening its legal and regulatory framework and promoting a thriving digital economy.

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