For about a decade, cybercafés were like pubs. Those drinking joints many visited to relax in the company of friends. Many of them, dotting all over some of the nation’s urban areas, operated into the wee hours of the morning. It was the dawn of the Internet era for Nigerians. Those who constantly patronised the cafés had different agenda. Some went there to communicate with business partners; students patronised the cafés to search for research materials on the World Wide Web. But some other characters frequented them to advance their criminal enterprise. The latter known as the “yahoo, yahoo boys” gave the cybercafés some notoriety because of advance fee fraud, popularly referred to as “419.” On the heels of the latter came law enforcement agents who frightened genuine users of the cafés and even their owners. At a time, it looked as if those who, well inadvertently, used the cafés for criminal purposes could become its nemesis. The pubs persevered though and their owners smiled to the banks. The story is different these days. Cybercafés are gasping for breath, even as more and more Nigerians browse the Internet. They do that with ease and in the comfort of their offices, schools, homes and even in public transport. All the networks operating in the country have made this possible through a number of services that easily connect the individual to the net on any mobile device. That is what is quietly killing what was once a good investment. The story is the lead in the BROAD STREET Journal section of the magazine; it is written by Chikodi Okereocha, senior assistant editor.
And for the cover story this week, we are again examining the activities of the Boko Haram. That militant sect is holding the North and, by extension, the nation by the jugular. While the sect is laying claim to the recent violence in Plateau State, the nation’s security apparatus is saying otherwise. There is no doubt, however, that Boko Haram is bent on causing a religious fracas in Nigeria, what with their choice of churches as prime targets for bombing, especially on Sundays during service. Since 2009, the militant sect has been responsible for the death of over a thousand people. And all efforts by security agencies to checkmate its members have not yielded much. The seeming helplessness in the face of this onslaught is making life in the North a nightmare. Thus many southerners who have lived in the North for decades are relocating. Many of them, traders and businessmen, made commerce tick in many of the embattled states. The implication of that flight and indeed other fallout is what is examined in the cover story, written by Tajudeen Suleiman, associate editor.