The recent arrest of thirty suspected internet fraudsters, aka Yahoo Boys, in Ilorin should bother all of us. These are our neighbours, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. We should be bothered because these people are making their living through the wrong path and we have done little or nothing to stop them. Some of us knew the kind of jobs they do but we looked the other way because we don’t want their “wahala”. But they are stealing from people and creating more victims every day and many of us behave as if it is nothing. If the government sets up a policy to make it more difficult for these fraudsters to carry out their illicit transactions, we join them to shout “incompetent government”, “terrorist government”, and “killer government” without realizing the motive behind the clamour.
What about the killer of Iniubong Umoren, the young graduate that was lured to her death with a fake job interview? Is he not a member of a community? This young man carried out atrocities in his father’s compounds and no one seemed to notice. Even if people did notice, they looked the other way. I mean, who wants to have a problem with a “big man” or a “big man’s son”? No one dared ask him what was happening in his father’s compound and so he continued to kill people and bury them in shallow graves. Thank God he has been exposed; let’s just hope the Nigerian factor does not apply to his case.
But let’s face the truth, many of us don’t know or care to find out how the other person makes his income. Many may suspect foul play but they still don’t care because they don’t believe they will be affected in any way. Those that want to act may be unable to prove their suspicions or even know how to contact the right authorities. But then, apart from the case of some salary earners (especially civil servants), little is known about how a lot of people earn their money in Nigeria.
Some years ago, while in Ibadan, my parish received reports that some parishioners engage in dubious activities to make money. It got to a stage where the whole thing almost became scandalous so that the church stakeholders had to convene several meetings to decide how to prevent scammers and other criminal elements from continuing with their activities if they want to remain members of the parish. By the end of the day, the church decided that every member must fill a membership form. One of the information that must be provided in that form was the member’s source of income and office address. As expected, those that didn’t want to provide such information left the parish while the ones that wanted to remain adjusted their lives and filled the form. Did this initiative solve the ensuing problems? The answer is yes; the wheat was separated from the tares and the parish was spared from some scandals.
If a church could ask its members for such vital information (and receive it), why can’t community leaders do the same? I know some landlords also ask for such details before renting out their houses/apartments but they do theirs for a different reason. What about churches, mosques, and other religious houses? How many of them have bothered going the extra mile to find out if their parishioners are earning their incomes honestly? What efforts are these religious leaders making towards ridding the country of her bad elements? Like we are told, faith without works is dead, so religious leaders should add actions to their sermons. They should have comprehensive registers of all parishioners, their occupations, and office/business address. Community leaders should also think of ways of conducting background checks on new and old tenants and/or members. That way, these people will either change or live in isolation.
There’s no doubt that the number of criminals in the country is on the increase because they were accepted and absorbed into the community. Some even have prestigious positions and responsibilities in societies, giving the impression that their crimes are norms or excused. All these kidnappers, bandits, unknown gunmen, terrorists, armed robbers, internet fraudsters, rapists, and the rest of them do not live in the bushes. They are members of our various communities and we know them. But then, we gave ourselves the duties of shielding them from the authorities but we still come out to cry against insecurity and crime. Anyway, so long as we allow wolves to live freely amongst us, we should expect our sheep to go missing every day. The problem here is that when the sheep are exhausted, the humans become their next meal.