A Nigerian who brought another round of embarrassment to the nation was arrested lately in Dubai. Big Sister, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Director-General of the Diaspora Commission, thereafter says Ramoni Olorunwa Abbas’ (aka Hushpuppi) behaviour isn’t representative of who we are as Nigerians. At about the same time, Frank Mba, the Police Public Relations Officer, said in an interview that there were other Hushpuppies around. He’s saying what we already know. I wish he says things we don’t know regarding what the police are doing to stop those ‘others’. I shall return to the comments made by these two government officials.
I’ve always been baffled when acts of criminality are committed and some insult a whole tribe for the criminal tendencies of a few. The irony is that those who insult tribes other than their own get angry when their tribes are also called out. Their response shows they think their tribes are so angelic that that mentioning the name at all is a sacrilege. Not long ago, I pointed out on this page that it wasn’t right that the spokesperson for a religious body disrespectfully addressed the head of another faith. I called on the leader of the body in question to not allow his subordinates to make such irreverent public comments anymore. One Agboola sent a message, insulting me for mentioning the name of the head of this religious body, and the effrontery to mention what he called “that noble Yoruba race” to which the person he was defending belonged.
This kind of disposition has made one to wonder the kind of people this nation produces. I see people who are supposed to be highly educated but the education doesn’t reflect on their mentality. It’s how to describe whoever leaves logical reasoning to dwell on the emotive. Meanwhile, no one is taught in school to reason with one’s emotion laden with prejudices. The reality and the facts around are supposed to inform the view of the educated person. Nonetheless, when some of us comment about what we actually see in other parts of Nigeria where we’ve lived or worked, we are called names for daring to be different. There are even some who write to me alleging that I can’t be a Yoruba man simply because I have anything good to state about other tribes that they hate.
Imagine the Agboola person telling me about “noble Yoruba race” when I should be the one telling him. I don’t know where he comes from. But I know where I come from. I suppose as a person in whose being is the gene of the Alaafins (the rulers of the Oyo Empire for centuries), I should have more legitimacy than he does to claim to be a Yoruba and defend the Yoruba. It’s funny how some assume you cannot belong to a tribe and yet have something good to say about another tribe. When some were demonising a whole ethnic group because of farmer-herder clashes, I stated on this page that it wasn’t right and the activities of a few should not be the basis for hating an entire ethnic group. I had been stating this for years, and when my uncle and father, Kabiyesi, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, stated something similar in 2019, I applauded on this page. He gave his reasons, stating that members of the same ethnic group being demonised had contributed significantly in his domain. That’s the way to reason in a balanced manner, and rationally look at issues.
For me, the tribe Ramoni Olorunwa Abbas comes from is another evidence of the argument I’ve always proffered that no single tribe is the problem of Nigeria, as against the notion that some have. If few members of one tribe cause problems locally, members of other tribes are causing monumental problems for Nigerians globally. The latter is the more problematic as every Nigerian who steps overseas suffers the consequences of the stigma scammers like Igbalode Azeez bring this nation. Many like him from other tribes are also caught abroad and they add to the destruction of the image of this nation. Yet people from the tribes of such scammers are vocal in private conversation and online, demonising tribes other than theirs for the activities of a few criminal-minded elements. Dabiri-Erewa says Hushpuppi isn’t representative of who we are as Nigerians. I state that the negative behaviour of any Nigerian isn’t representative of the tribe to which they belong.
Mba, the police spokesperson, was saying there are many Hushpuppies around. Of course, there are. But what’s the Nigeria Police doing about them? Our system doesn’t demonstrate it’s ready to catch big-time thieves and scammers. This has been shown of recent. Meanwhile, some of us continue to point it out that there are simple measures that could be taken to curb activities of dishonest Nigerians before they go global like Hushpuppi. In the past, I had suggested that the police or the Consumer Protection Council could set up a database. Here, Nigerians who are approached by scammers or are actually scammed could submit information. We know that a scammer who succeeds in one operation will go on to try the same trick on another unsuspecting victim. If information is deposited in a database, it would be easy for investigators to follow the trail and bring scammers to justice before they cheat another victim.
I think it is GTB that has provided a point to which one could send information if a scammer is suspected of using the name of the bank to cheat its customers. Other corporate bodies should emulate this. One challenge is that when corporate bodies are approached with information such as name of scammers, phone number and bank details, they do nothing. I had complained to 9mobile through the CPC that someone hacked my phone and began to ask my contacts for money, claiming to be me. Rather than call the attention of the police to the report, the mobile phone company called and asked me to get a police report. Last week, a footballer in England reported that someone sent him racist comments. The matter was investigated and a 12-year-old boy was promptly arrested. After I supplied details about a scammer, and the institution concerned failed to do anything, they were helping to grow another Hushpuppi who would soon embarrass all of us abroad.
The other day, a friend of mine said that some scammers asked him to pay money to buy application form for his daughter. These scammers claimed they worked for the School of Nursing and Midwifery located on the premises of the Specialist Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja. I chose to establish the fact of the matter so I went to the said school. It wasn’t open but an official informed me that the application form for 2020 wasn’t out yet due to the COVID-19 lockdown. He stated further that the form is known to always come out in May, so scammers put information online and unsuspecting applicants have been paying money into their bank accounts. Once the scammers got the money, they became unreachable. Victims have been going to the school where they learn they’ve been conned. But what’s the school doing to stem this tide?
Like other institutions whose names have been used to scam Nigerians, nothing. I think the institution involved in this particular case shouldn’t continue to watch. It’s for this reason I state here the details of the two persons who have asked my friend to pay money into their bank accounts, ostensibly to sell to him the 2020 application form of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Gwagwalada, Abuja. They are as follows: Faith (actually a male); Phone Number – 08032960465; Name of Account: (a Professor, but I choose to withhold it); Account Number: 2146569980 – UBA. The second scammer has the following details: Phone Number: 08145732910; Name of Account: FCT Department of Nursing/Midwifery; Account Number: 1383258134 – Access Bank.
If the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Gwagwalada, Abuja, is aware that budding Hushpuppies use its name to con people but it claims it doesn’t know the criminals, now it has the information needed to get the appropriate authorities to go after the criminals. The school owes innocent applicants, who are being cheated, this responsibility.
Written by 'Tunji Ajibade