By Umar Sa’ad Hassan
Most people seem to under-estimate how profound the yahoo yahoo problem actually is.
Two serving members of the House Of Representatives and a Court Ordained governor of the Federal Republic are said to have quite a reputation in the world of fraud. We already know that one Chika Odionyenma who was on Former Imo state Governor, Emeka Ihedioha’s inauguration committee appeared on FBI’s list of 77 Wanted Nigerian fraudsters and despite Ihedioha’s denial of Odionyenma sponsoring his election,most people think he did along with a host of other wire wire exponents.
Internet fraud is not just a crime for Benz-hungry and Champagne-loving youths,it is also one for the very ‘righteous’ in our midst. These fraudsters are not only sponsoring elections, they are running themselves and winning elections into government. Gradually they will bamboozle their way to the very highest levels and not only protect themselves but also do as they please with the full cover of the state apparatus. A lot of them already have a reputation for philanthropy. With more than enough money to dole out to the less privileged and enormous political power in their kitty, we may have a similar situation with Mexico and its drug cartels.
The yahoo problem is much more serious than it appears. When the North Georgia District Attorney’s office indicted the owner of Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyeama for fraud and money laundering, the EFCC said it wanted to investigate the ‘Nigerian aspect’ of the offence. The anti-corruption body outrageously stated that an application for extradition can only be entertained after the suspect has been arraigned before a court.
The Chairman of the Coalition of Arewa Youth Groups, Shettima Yerima who 2 years earlier issued a quit notice to all Igbos living in the North started talking about Northern youths going to demonstrate at the US embassy. The US was investigating Onyeama as at the time he sent his planes to bring back nigerians in South Africa and while that appears likely now to have been a move to launder his image before an indictment, the volte face by a man like Shettima was probably brought about by a hefty ‘donation’ to him and his groups. No other reason can support such a man turning round to sing Onyeama’s praises and planning a protest on his behalf. It has been 7 months since the EFCC assumed jurisdiction over that case. Obtaining financial records of his accounts with Nigerian banks and perusing them shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks at most. The EFCC has stayed silent and hasn’t given the public even the slightest hint that it is still on the case.Based solely on its own understanding of our mutual treaty agreement, it can’t hand over Onyeama if he hasn’t been arraigned in court. Barring any drastic change, that case is as good as dead. The killing of a multi-millionaire ex-policeman and kidnapper sharing the same nickname with flamboyant and generous socialite, Emmanuel Okonkwo alias E-Money made news some time ago and most of the blogs in assembling click baits, had nothing to suggest it was another ‘E-Money’ in their headlines. The word is persons close to the Presidency complained bitterly about these individuals with crazy names moving around with police escorts and flaunting suspicious wealth.Emmanuel Okonkwo was invited by the police on the orders of the Inspector General to explain his source of wealth and then set free hours later. The police till date has not told us what its findings were.Weeks later it was the turn of self-styled Celebrity Barman, Cubana Chief Priest whose notable business interests are the Cubana Night clubs and a hotel. The popular stories round Cubana have always been that he was a ‘G-Boy’ and that he introduced an afro-pop music star from a rich family who he is good friends with to it as well. No one has any proof to back up their claims of course until he is investigated or caught. While E-Money may try to justify his stupendous wealth on his shipping business, Cubana will have a much harder task doing that on the back of his known sources of income. The police invited him on the same grounds as E-Money- undesirable use of police escorts and a probe on source of wealth.He spent hours with the police and left. No word from them.
There is a culture of silence by our authorities. There is a very shameless protection of rich and highly connected criminal suspects and this is very worrying. We already have a global reputation for internet fraud and it would hurt us severely if we earn another for condoning it. The Allen Onyeama case is a ready reference point for how corrupt and useless Buhari and his anti-corruption foot soldiers are. Why invite people in the first place if you aren’t going to thoroughly investigate them? Is it a means of making money off them? Because I see no other reason why they would invite people they had no real intention of looking into.
This has also happened in a few recent cases unrelated to highly suspicious billionaires. The Kogi state commissioner of water resources was accused of raping a girl in Lokoja named Elizabeth prompting a massive outcry on social media and also by women activists. Much after the incident reportedly happened and a complaint filed, he was finally invited to the Force Head quarters Abuja again on the orders of the Inspector General only to be set free hours later. How many persons accused of rape in Nigeria enjoy the privilege of strolling into the police head quarters to be asked questions and then leave that same day?
Judging from what we have all seen so far,there is a strange pattern of loud screaming by the EFCC and the police when they move in on these persons with questionable wealth and then a deafening silence ensues. Do they really think nigerians are stupid enough to laud them for a good job based on the publicized invitations and then ignore the fact that these individuals are released moments later without any statement whatsoever?
International experts will tell you there is an ‘unofficial’ reason why the US issued a visa ban to Nigeria and other countries on that list.We must bear in mind always that the whole world is watching.Its one thing to claim ignorance of these stupendously rich individuals flaunting businesses that don’t support their spending and another entirely to actually invite these people with a view to investigating their sources of income only to send them back home hours later while keeping mute and wishing it all out of everyone’s consciousness. We will no longer just be ‘Nigerians, the fraudsters’,we would also be ‘Nigeria, the home of fraud’.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano