Yahoo plus: The new ubiquitous social disorder

These boys, who should be under parental care, given their tender ages, travelled all the way from Delta State to Lagos. They confessed that they had come to learn how to do Yahoo-Yahoo and were not Yahoo plus boys, signifying their depth of knowledge of these dimensions of criminality… According to those in the know, Yahoo is the regular internet scam, but Yahoo Plus involves rituals and the use of human parts for metaphysical purposes, as engendered by the harvesting of human organs.

 

A tragedy of monumental proportion, with far reaching domino effects, has hit us as a people. To be sure, 419, internet fraud, cybercrime, advance free fraud, deception, scam emails, false marriage to foreigners, etc., used to be isolated crimes, but it is all around us now, threatening to consume our teenage and youth demographic. Scavenging for body parts through ritual killing is not new, but for four teenagers to carry out such an act, learnt from the internet – in which they cut off a young lady’s head and cooked it on fire – is to take barbarism too far. This horror story occurred in real life, in Ogun State, last weekend.

 

In some state capitals in Nigeria, internet fraud flourishes such that those who toil in normal work are derided for not being achievers. A colleague told a story of how Yahoo boys display the latest cars and live in mansions in his state capital, such that when he went home recently, people were asking when he would build his own mansion. In such big towns like Benin, Asagba, Ado-Ekiti, Osogbo, besides the existing big cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Ibadan and others, cyber criminals live in upscale apartments where they carry out their nefarious activities.



Unfortunately, our society is only concerned about the glitz and glamour of the good life, rather than the source of such flash. For example, my niece who graduated last year at age 22 said her classmate who should be about 23 or thereabout has built a mansion for his mother in Jos, while he drives a luxury car. What could he have done within one year to earn money enough to build a house other than crime?

 

Parents are complicit and guilty by association, because they take gifts from their young children without asking them questions about the sources of the finances used in procuring these gifts. They are indeed hypocritical. Teenagers as young as 19 use phones their parents cannot afford. Every young man and woman want to use iPhones worth over N500,000. Girls go after this kind of boys and their parents are happy when these boys take their daughters as girlfriends or seek to marry them. There is a problem with our parental functions as a people.

 

The working tools of Yahoo boys include 24-hour internet connections, software for hacking, computers, etc. This category of crimes being condoned by parents has gotten to a disturbing level, such that teenagers are now partaking in it on a bizarre scale. Last weekend saw to the arrest of four teenage boys who slaughtered the girlfriend of one of them and burnt her head for money ritual in Ogun State. The boys, aged 17 to 19, were discovered by a community security guard who saw them burning the head of the girl. He, in turn, then informed the police at Adatan station, who swooped on the boys. Rofiat, the victim, was said to be the girlfriend of Soliu, one of the arrested boys. Mustakeem Balogun, one of the boys, revealed how and why they killed her: “We wanted to use just her head alone for money ritual. Soliu strangled her and told me to assist him, we cut off her head”. It was while they were burning Rofiat’s head in a pot that nemesis caught up with them.

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However, the Nigerian Yahoo boys choose not to take a cue from these bad examples. They also do not care about the domino effects of their activities, part of which is the reason why innocent hard-working Nigerians doing legitimate work are treated shabbily and tarred with the same brush of the Obis and Hushpuppis of this country. An ongoing case is the issue of Nigerians working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being subjected to refusal in the efforts to renewal their residence or work permits, for no other reason than their nationality.



Another case making the rounds in the social media pertains to the arrest of three boys between the ages of 14 and 15 years, who were accosted in Obanikoro in Lagos State. These boys, who should be under parental care, given their tender ages, travelled all the way from Delta State to Lagos. They confessed that they had come to learn how to do Yahoo-Yahoo and were not Yahoo plus boys, signifying their depth of knowledge of these dimensions of criminality. The aggregation of their confessions read thus: “We have come to hustle, but not yahoo plus hustle.” They said they were pursued from where they were, and that their mothers and fathers who live in Delta State are aware of their stay in Lagos but they had to leave their homes because they were often abused and cursed there. According to those in the know, Yahoo is the regular internet scam, but Yahoo Plus involves rituals and the use of human parts for metaphysical purposes, as engendered by the harvesting of human organs.

 

While these teenagers are emulating the old horses in the game, they are either not aware of or do not care about the fate that befell those caught in the act and were either killed in parts of Asia or are now in various prisons across the world, the most recent being social media celebrities, including Ramon Abbas, a.k.a. Hushpuppi; Ismail Mustapha, a.k.a Mompha; and a promising young man, Obinwanne Okeke, otherwise known as Invictus Obi. Obi, a presently convicted fraudster, who was once listed by Forbes magazine as one of Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs under the age of 30 year. Today, Invictus Obi is serving a 10-year jail term in the U.S. for internet fraud that caused the loss of $11 million to his victims.

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However, the Nigerian Yahoo boys choose not to take a cue from these bad examples. They also do not care about the domino effects of their activities, part of which is the reason why innocent hard-working Nigerians doing legitimate work are treated shabbily and tarred with the same brush of the Obis and Hushpuppis of this country. An ongoing case is the issue of Nigerians working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being subjected to refusal in the efforts to renewal their residence or work permits, for no other reason than their nationality.

 

These are young, vibrant and brilliant Nigerian professionals doing genuine and legitimate work being refused work permits. Many are as well denied entry into other countries because of the perception that Nigerians are criminals and scammers, again because of the activities of a few bad eggs among us. Obviously, there are prejudices and negative perception about Nigerians, but this small percentage provides the catalysts for the poor treatment and negative perception of Nigerians around the world.



What should decent men and women of this country, who are in the majority anyway, do to rescue our sagging image and stop the scourge? We really need to stop glorifying material things. Prosperity is not about money alone, yet that is what our religious, political and traditional leaders emphasise these days and the young people are watching.

 

For these latest cases in Ogun, Zamfara States, and other parts of the country, let justice be done… Efforts must be made by authorities at all levels to heal our land of these evil ways of making money and to make a good example of those caught in the act through appropriate punishment, as provided for by relevant laws of the land.

 

The social life of Nigerians does not help matters either. The ostentatious display of wealth on social media by celebrities and scammers are interpreted negatively by the youth, who thenceforth get involved in this ‘bad ‘business’, and because people do not ask questions, the vice is spreading like a wildfire. In a nutshell, our society encourages and indulges crime. The Nigerian lingos espoused by young people, such as ‘fake it till you make it’, and ‘if you do not have money, hide your face…’ are also enablers of crimes.

 

All regulatory authorities, especially the Nigerian Film Corporation, and the security agencies must, as a matter of urgency, get involved in the production of movies, to stamp out ritual killings for money, as often depicted in Nollywood movies, which are just creative dramatisations that are not real. If not, what made the Ogun State boys who killed Rofiat think that burning a human head would turn into money? To ever think that a human being like you can be made to turn into money, without hardwork, is disturbing; but such things are displayed in Nollywood. Imagine the Zamfara cannibal who killed, ate and sold body parts before he was arrested penultimate week, just to get rich? People’s children are killed for rituals, while yours are sheltered. How justiciable!

 

Although the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has often clamped down on Yahoo boys, compromises on the part of investigators and prosecutors, judicial recklessness, and the absence of proper law enforcement have, at best, stalled the painstaking trial of offenders that would have led administration of legal consequences for their crimes. Without sending offenders to jail to serve as deterrence to others, the Nigerian system (governments, security agencies, the judiciary and society as a whole) appear to be enabling bad behaviour and condoning crimes.



For these latest cases in Ogun, Zamfara States, and other parts of the country, let justice be done. Offenders should be sentenced to death by hanging and not life imprisonment sentences, which are often abused by politicians in the name of amnesty or the release of perpetrators on the basis of political expediency (to serve as thugs during critical elections). There should also not be the secret ‘wasting of their lives’ because they are criminals. That’s jungle justice, and not purposeful justice. Efforts must be made by authorities at all levels to heal our land of these evil ways of making money and to make a good example of those caught in the act through appropriate punishment, as provided for by relevant laws of the land. The world is watching.

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