The Government of Nigeria and Microsoft Corp this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding defining a framework for co-operation between Microsoft and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria to fight cybercrime. This agreement is the first of its kind between Microsoft and an African government and will help support the Nigerian government’s efforts to create a safe legal environment for technology development and enforce laws that help attract investment and ensure sustainable economical development. This open and collaborative approach to working with the Nigerian government to combat issues such as spam, financial scam, phishing, spyware, viruses, worms, malicious code launches and counterfeiting is a key example of how a public-private partnership can broaden the impact of joint efforts and address large-scale issues that are important to the IT industry worldwide.

Nuhu Ribadu, executive chairman of EFCC, said, “Having a committed, reliable and value-conscious software partner such as Microsoft that shares our vision and recognises the challenges facing governments today is critical to our success. We are excited to work with them on this endeavour and look forward to the benefits this agreement will bring in preventing the occurance of cybercrime and encouraging local software industry growth in Nigeria.”

The EFCC is in the forefront of Nigeria’s anti-cybercrime war and the commission investigates and takes proactive measures to help prevent the occurrence of cybercrime. The various steps the commission has taken, evidence gathering, painstaking investigation, arrests, seizure of assets, diligent prosecution and media education, have served to reduce perpetration of cybercrime in Nigeria. In addition, the Advance Fee Fraud Section of the Commission is currently investigating hundreds of suspects and prosecuting over 50 cases, involving close to 100 accused persons, in courts throughout Nigeria. Under the terms of the agreement, the Microsoft and the EFCC will work together to combat the problem of internet crime through information sharing and training on Microsoft’s technical expertise in this area.

“At Microsoft, we recognise that we have a responsibility to use our time, technology, and resources to help ensure that people around the world can benefit from technology,” said Neil Holloway, president of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “This agreement to share our technical knowledge and best practices with the Nigerian government is an important step towards creating a safer legal environment that encourages ICT business development in Nigeria.”

With long-term partnerships with governments, industries and communities in Europe and throughout the developing markets of the region, Microsoft is helping address the issue of security, and is helping to enable ongoing advances in interoperability in support of economic development and competitiveness. Microsoft takes a comprehensive approach to security and works with governments worldwide to provide education and training along with offering several government-specific security programmes and solutions. In addition, Microsoft is working with industry partners and others worldwide to provide leadership in the fight to protect users from security threats such as worms and viruses, as well as emerging online security threats, including spam, financial scam, spyware and phishing, that threaten consumers and customers’ systems.

“At Microsoft, we have invested substantial resources and implemented comprehensive campaigns and initiatives to help make the internet a safer place to help ensure the integrity and viability of e-mail and the internet. Nigeria is often perceived as a country that hosts financial scammers, this is why it is a great honour for us to contribute to the outstanding efforts of the EFCC,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Associate General Counsel of Microsoft EMEA. “We are excited to share our knowledge and resources in this area to support the efforts of the EFCC so that these emerging online threats do not continue to proliferate.”