#60MinutesWithCP: Are Yahoo Boys Scared Of Lagos Police?
The police is your friend. At least that's what it should if your hands are clean.
But do you feel a sense of justice each time a police officer walks into a room or asks you to stop at a check point?
Do you feel a need to be defensive and ensure the conversation with the police is limited to a sentence or two while you hit the tootle quicker than you marched the brakes?
Why do we feel a sense of injustice sometimes when you walk into a police station to make a complaint and all you get is to write a statement and no one ever contacts you again?
On May 12, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abayomi Shogunle, took to Twitter to make a bold statement against the internet fraudsters resident in Lagos.
The responses that trolled his 'heroic' move were rather shocking.
It was quite even how people raged at the police for arresting some of these suspected cyber-crime lords and their stooges.
According to replies from his tweet, most Yahoo boys are now running to Abeokuta, Illorin, Osogbo. See the reactions he got from Nigerians after he tweeted this below.
Since the infamous arrest of some suspected Yahoo Boys at Club 57 earlier this year, the spotlight has been on these young men who drive extremely exotic cars at night and 'hide' in doors for most parts of the day.
Allegations that they also engage in attempts to clean their stolen wealth were also highlighted by fashion blogger and entrepreneur, Noble Igwe in his tweet that went viral.
So, why are Yahoo Boys often protected from law enforcement?
Don Dee as he is fondly known in the Somolu area of Lagos, is quite an intelligent young man.
A graduate from the Olabisi Onabanjo Univeristy, Ogun State.
He could be aged anything between 30 and 36 years old. For his philanthropy and communal kindness; he is silently protected by residents in the area that benefit directly and indirectly from his deep pockets.
He has redefined social justice by providing as much as he can even for people whom he has never met or known before.
They say he hardly ever discriminates between children from his neighbourhood and others from close-by communities.
School fees, house rent, medical bills and salaries are borne by his young shoulders.
He spoke to Punch about the strategies being adopted to hide away from the prying eyes of law enforcement officers.
“If you drive these big cars during the daytime, you’ll only be inviting these people to come after you and make life difficult for you. But at nighttime, the harassment is very low, so you could move around peacefully with your flashy car even though you still have to give the regular tips to policemen who are on the road,” he said.
“I have a house in town but I hardly go there for security reasons,” the young man continued. “The SARS guys would always get that information and come after me just to collect money. It is for that reason that I and my guys stay in this hotel because they cannot come in here to pick anyone. They know the man who owns this place and won’t dare to come in here,” he added boastfully.
Tee-Money is 28. He has been involved in online fraud for few years and it has turned out to be quite profitable for him,he says.
But the police have also picked up his scent.
"The chasing pack is real. They know who we are. They know where we live. They know our friends, girl friends, parents, associates and side chics.
"Why they have not picked us up till now remains a mystery to me. If they choose to get rid of all of us in a week, they will make it happen", he said.
He also speaks on personal measures taken to hide his identity.
"In fact, I have had to cut my hair low and avoid wearing clothes that would even make you suspect me to be a ‘Gee’ in any way. If you knew the way I dressed before and now, you’d realise a whole lot of difference. This is necessary just to avoid giving yourself away to these guys who are really ready to mess up anyone caught nowadays,” he added.
The Chasing Pack
Have these Yahoo Boys ever seen their predecessors convicted? How often has the police investigated and prosecuted suspected Yahoo Boys and earned justice for their victims?
It always begins with a tip off. Prefarably, a whistle blown - followed quickly by the burst-up raid and arrest.
Then there is the famous police 'parade' at the Force Headquarters in Ikeja. Journalists are called in, pictures are taken, there is a promise to charge the fellows to court; then GBAM!
The long silence follows and we hardly ever hear of the court proceedings or the eventual convictions.
Something is openly wrong with our justice system. Somewhere along the lines, the cases are bungled or there is lack of sufficient evidence to prove the matter beyond resonable doubt.
Though there are conflicting accounts on the origin of cybercrime or ‘Yahoo yahoo’ in Nigeria, analysts say the trend gained momentum in the early 1990s.
It boomed in the following decade after the arrival of affordable Internet in most parts of the country.
The failure of the government to plan for its emerging youthful population who were born into poverty may have lured many in this category into the illicit trade of scamming, according to sociologist, Sandra Ekanem.
“Beyond the advent of cheap, affordable Internet, it is the failure of the society to provide jobs that would have engaged idle minds that triggered ‘Yahoo yahoo’ and other crimes we now face in this country.
“Even though having no means of livelihood is not an excuse for engaging in criminal activities, it is a huge contributory factor the society must address to solve this problem,” she said.
Tempting The Men In Black
"I remember when I was busted in my former house on the mainland in Maryland. I must commend the police, it was a well planned operation.
"We did not even see them coming. They raided us on a Tuesday evening just after a Champions League match.
"I will never forget the look on the face of the most senior officer. He gazed at the bail of 100 dollars that they brought out of the bag and put on the table when they were searching us. He sat on the chair, put his rifle on the table and asked 'why are we the police the stupid ones?'"
This is according to Chimezie popularly know as CM in an estate within Chevron area in Lekki.
He spoke to Bounce News on why he and other G-boyz are not so scared of the police these days.
"At first, I did not understand what he was talking about. But he did the math in front of us while we were being hand-cuffed.
"They hardly get paid more than 100,000 naira per month despite the fact they they put their lives on the line daily to maintain law and order.
"But right there on the table was millions of naira they were hesitant to take in as evidence against us", he added.
"These officers are humans and they live in the same corrupt society and the temptation on them to cooperate with us is extremely high.
"Sometimes, I think it's easier to be yahoo boy than to be a police officer. I can't say about EFCC and SARS o! But for police men, I know they are seriously suffering."
Sour And Sweet
It is one thing to declare war against yahoo boys and it is another to convince their benefactors to turn them in.
It is a third thing for the police to earn the respect and trust of the people. How much do you trust the police officers in Lagos?
There are some exceptional gentle and upright men in the command but how far will I stick out my neck for their kind of justice?
Well... not too far.
Perhaps the Commissioner of Police in Lagos state, Edgal Imohimi would have more answers to these questions when he comes on #60minuteswithCP on Thursday September 13, 2018 at 1pm.
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You ask the questions, he answers.