: motivations, modes, and emerging trends with Nigeria as a case study

  • Pelumi Olumide Apantaku

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study aims to investigate, empirically, the motivation, mode of operation and emerging trends of cybercrime, using Nigeria as a case study. The academic discussion of cybercrime is relatively new, and there is limited amount of literature that focuses on in-depth holistic research into cybercrime in the context of an individual country. This study addresses these issues by exploring the subject area through the perceptions of stakeholders. It was conducted using key criminological concepts to examine the unique social conditions of Nigeria and their contribution to cybercrime. A review of the current general literature on cybercrime was first conducted. The qualitative method was adopted in this research because it integrates effectively with the phenomenology philosophy preferred in the research. With the selected method, this study adopted three methods: documentary analysis, focus groups and interviews. The documentary analysis explored the evolution, contributing factors, sub-culture and government intervention in cybercrime. Overall, twenty-eight participants from Nigeria were involved in this research, with three participating in the focus group and twenty-five in the interviews. In the focus group, key current cybercrime characteristics were retrieved. The findings from the focus group and interviews were discussed with the literature to present a holistic view.
Overall, this research identified five core contributions to knowledge in the area of motivation and mode of operation. They include; i) new motivations which are emerging outside financial gain including altruism, creativity, revenge and political principles; ii) modus operandi of cybercrime is becoming much less predictable; iii) the organisation of cybercrime is decentralised without any control or rigid structure; iv) rural-urban migration contributes to the complexity and number of crimes in developing countries; and v) a sociotechnical and multidisciplinary approach to cybercrime is key for effective regulation. These findings demonstrate the present situation of cybercrime in numerous countries.
The findings highlighted core emerging trends in the conduct of cybercrime worldwide. These trends include: i) cybercrime in some developing countries can dominate the world; ii) the development and strengthening of a transnational economy through uncontrolled collaborations among cybercriminals; iii) rise in professionalisation of cybercrime and cybercrime-as-a-service; and iv) becoming accepted and legitimised as a way of life in some countries. The growth of these trends will differ among countries. The difference will be subject to the strength of cybersecurity and regulation in individual countries.
There are core implications for criminology theories from these findings. The implications include: i) no theory can adequately explain cybercrime; ii) criminologists are trying to fit the theories to the crime; and iii) the future of cybercrime further provides significant concern for the theories. Thus, it is important to develop new theories or amend previous theories to reflect the technological realities of cybercrime.
In conclusion, this research proposes a more social approach to combating cybercrime rather than the current criminal and technical approach. This is crucial because motivations reflect the result of challenging social conditions on young citizens. Further, there is the need for an integrated approach that focuses on cybercrime prevention rather than investigation. This research has contributed to the body of knowledge in this subject area by presenting in-depth knowledge of the evolution, current state, and the expected trend of cybercrime from the Nigerian case study.
Date of AwardMay 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorVictoria Wang (Supervisor) & Christopher Gray Lewis (Supervisor)

Cite this