The real criminals are the ones that have elevated themselves above the law. They are the ones that have enabled the conditions that have not only produced the Hush Puppies of this world, but that have nurtured them, protected them, and rendered them acceptable in the abnormal world into which they have locked the Nigerian state.
It has been a bad season for internet fraudsters of Nigerian origin. The first to be nabbed is the one with Latin name; Invictus I believe he is called. Then I heard of another one named Mompha or something that would appear to sound like that. I had never heard of the one that they have called Hush Puppie, until the news broke of his arrest in Dubai.
I began to see pictures of the obviously impoverished young man, engaged in one orgy of glutinous consumption or the other, and trying his very best to be seen, acknowledged, and to impress. I saw the pictures with a former speaker of the House of Representatives, an undistinguished former senator, and the teeming social media following. I saw the adoration that he had succeeded in nurturing amongst the young men and women that saw in him, the example to follow.
I saw the army of conscious young people that have struggled to properly define the malfeasance of the internet criminals, and the lost battles that they are fighting to convince their peers that crime does not pay, and that they should value the sweat of their brows. I have seen the correct identification of internet fraud, as a major reason why opportunities are being denied to innocent persons of Nigerian descent, and I feel the pains of every Nigerian, that have been deemed vicariously liable and guilty, of crimes that we knew nothing about.
I have read the righteous condemnation of the evil activities of cyber criminals, and I agree that they are undeserving of any consideration beyond that accorded to all accused persons. I agree that they should be punished for any crimes that they might have committed. But, in the midst of all the cacophonous gyrations; I have observed the Nigerian predilection for false moral equivalences.
The internet fraudsters are damaging our country’s image! Yes, I agree. But who has done us more damage than our rulers? Do you think that David Cameron was talking of petty crooks like Hush Puppie, when he labeled us as being “fantastically corrupt”? For every Hush Puppie, there are a thousand cyber criminals of Russian descent, and for every Invictus, I assure you there’s another thousand North Korean. Nigerians account for less than 5% of the value lost to cyber crimes globally, and we are per capital, extremely kosher in our internet dealings than any other country of equal population and size. Cameron was not speaking to the petty thieves.
The real criminals are the ones that have elevated themselves above the law. They are the ones that have enabled the conditions that have not only produced the Hush Puppies of this world, but that have nurtured them, protected them, and rendered them acceptable in the abnormal world into which they have locked the Nigerian state. How do you tell the enforcement agencies, that have been rendered the enforcement arms of men of power, and not of law, that they should be interested in the likely criminality of the men that the IGP, or someone acting in his name, has assigned you to guard? Why should the police or EFCC chase after the internet fraudsters, when they are indistinguishable from the undistinguished senators and our evil rulers?
A friend once narrated what he swore is a true story, told to him by the principal character in the tale: A police inspector. The incident happened in Borno State. The policeman was part of a detachment manning a checkpoint on a major highway, and they had stopped a car for a routine check. The Inspector was unsatisfied with the responses of the driver of the car, and began to ask for details of the car ownership and for the car particulars. The principal occupant made a phone call instead of answering questions, and the policeman found himself talking to the state police commissioner in short order.
Humiliated and ordered to allow the immediate departure of the big oga, the Inspector handed back the particulars he had been given by the oga’s driver, and withdrew to lick his wounds. That was when the big oga delivered the coup de grace. “Give me one tosa”. He demanded to be given a gun salute. The inspector ignored the request and went about his job, and oga big man, resumed his journey with his laughter ringing as he departed.
Less than a week after the encounter, the inspector received orders to resume at his new duty post within the state command. He had been assigned to guard a VIP. Our inspector resumed at his new duty post in his starched uniform, he was received on arrival by the drivers and other domestic servants, and was fed along with other members of the security detail, whilst they waited for the VIP to emerge from the palatial mansion. Oga is an international businessman and friend of the gomina, he was told. I offer no prizes for the identity of the oga that emerged. Let’s just say that he repeated his demand for a gun salute. Only this time, it was an order, not a request.
Abominable, reprehensible, and odious as the actions of the internet fraudsters are, I cannot be hoodwinked into believing that the internet fraudsters are more evil than our rulers, and I can say this without in any way, endorsing the criminality of the internet fraudsters. The fetid pool of impunity, required to render our rulers immune from the consequences of their actions, is what has assured that the small time criminals, are generally immune to the sanctions of law, seeing as they are able to persuade the police and other agencies of government, to extend the immunity reserved to the rulers to them. This fetid pool, is the source of the pervasive corruption that our governments have always pretended to fight.
So yes, Hushpuppie and his crew are bad for the image of Nigeria. And yes, they are evil criminals that should be kept locked away, but I have more bile for the evil men and women that constitute the Nigerian ruling class, than I am able to manage for the petty criminals in Hushpuppie’s gang. The unbuilt schools, laboratories, hospitals, roads, railways, and waterworks, are far more devastating to the Nigerian people, than the petty criminality of deviant victims of authorized stealings.
How is Ninalowo different from Hushpuppie, and if Hushpuppie had not been arrested by the Dubai Police and the FBI, can you picture his arrest by the Nigerian police? Can you see him convicted and in jail in Nigeria? The real criminals are in the government quarters. You cannot condemn Hushpuppie, and at the same time be eulogizing the wicked, avaricious armed robbers ruling us.
Authority stealing pass 419! This is not an endorsement of fraudulence, and it would be intellectually indolent for anyone to interpret this as doing so. “Authority Stealing Pass Armed Robbery” Fela said, but he needn’t explain that he wasn’t endorsing armed robbery. Authority Stealing Pass 419!