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Friday, May 24, 2024

Yahoo-Yahoo: The Intersection Of Politics And Crime

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The story is heartbreaking. Two Nigerian siblings, 20 and 22-year-olds, had duped a young American student, 17, to send his nude photographs to them. They had pretended to be a beautiful woman, having hacked into the Instagram account of a lady named, Dani, through which they contacted their victim.

After getting the photos, they began blackmailing the American to send money to them or they would send the photographs to all his family members and make the pictures go viral. The American, Jordan DeMay, said he only had $300, the Nigerian scammers insisted on $1,000 and laughed at his threat of suicide. ‘Good … enjoy your miserable life,’ they reportedly said, per a report in Daily Mail. The young American couldn’t take the shame of his nudes going public and killed himself through a self-inflicted gun wound.

This week, the two Nigerian young men, actually ‘boys’ themselves, – Samuel and Samson Ogoshi, were extradited to the US to face various criminal charges, including the sexual exploitation of a minor and causing the death of Jordan DeMay. They both potentially face a jail term of up to 30 years.

This story is sad and exemplifies the notoriety of internet crimes in Nigeria, otherwise known as Yahoo Yahoo. According to Kaspersky, the cybersecurity and anti-virus provider company, Nigerian ranks number 1 in Africa concerning online threats and scams, followed by South Africa and Kenya. In the report presented at the inaugural GITEX Africa conference in Morocco, Nigeria was ranked 50th globally in respect of cybercrimes.

A report on Business Day of November 22, 2022, claims that Nigeria recorded a 174 percent increase in cybercrimes in 6 months in 2022, with the paper warning that: “The bourgeoning menace of cybercrimes is a growing cause of global concern as incidents of financial, intellectual property, and personal identity losses amongst individuals, corporate organisations, and governments have become commonplace.”

Internet scams in Nigeria used to be Lagos-centric and Festac Town was the apparent headquarters of the fraudsters. Now, the phenomenon appears to have metastasised to every major southern Nigerian city and campus. And it is no longer rare to see young men and, sadly, women, living the luxurious life with no apparent means of livelihood, beyond the ‘deals’ they make on their laptops.

The forms of cybercrime have evolved. The days of elementary 419 are over as the scammers today engage in high-tech phishing, hacking, identity theft, and pharming, which is the redirecting of users to fraudulent websites, often to steal login credentials or personal information. Some have even gone further, mixing technology and juju, to get what is now known as Yahoo-Plus.

One reason for the burgeoning of cybercrime is that it appears to be a victimless crime. But it is not. Yahoo-Yahoo has many victims, people like you and myself, robbed of their cash, sometimes life savings, and even more significantly their trust and belief in humanity. Because these victims are mostly white people doesn’t make the crime less grievous and evil. We all, whether white, black, yellow or in-between, have a shared humanity and can feel the pain of being duped.

These victims more often than not are rich women — lonely widows, bored housewives, or single ladies seeking romance and true love; but often too, they are hardworking fathers, over-ambitious business executives, and ordinary people seeking to make an extra buck. The evil masterminds don’t make a distinction about their prey, anyone caught in their hook is fine and a mugu.

Since the 1990s, there have been various efforts to curb cybercrimes in Nigeria, including the Cyber Crime Act of 2015. The reason we have not made a dent in it is because of the intersection between Yahoo-Yahoo and the collapse of our values and norms as exemplified in our reprobate political class.

The Political Class has hence lost the moral authority to preach piety and good conduct. During election season, our politicians throw pretension of right conduct and behaviour overboard and engage in the worst form of brigands, criminality and political yahoo-yahoo.

Rigging, targeted violence and other forms of electoral misconduct which have become all too common are the Yahoo-Yahoo of politics. They are the examination malpractice of the political elite and are worse than examination misconduct by students.

We have reached a moral abyss where young people have no guiding light concerning proper behaviour and conduct. Convicted felons are friends to the highest echelons of power, and government officials with serious weighty allegations of corruption and misuse of power are offered even more important government positions. The subliminal message here is this: crime pays as long as you are rich and have friends in power.

Young people see this. The Yahoo-Yahoo boys are apparently trying to replicate what they see in the politics space, trying to get rich, the way our politicians try to get elected, anyhow and by any means.

And no one can stop them, sadly.

By Julius Ogunro

Mr. Ogunro is the director of research and strategy at the Future Now Initiative, an Abuja-based civil society.

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