Living their youth in wrong ways
In a depressed economy, where the battle for survival increasingly becomes intense, many Nigerian youths have resorted to dubious acts and practices to eke out a living. In this piece, OGUNBAMOWO ELIZABETH and SEGUN OJO x-ray the depth of prostitution and cyberrelated crimes (Yahoo Yahoo) on Lagos youths despite the prohibition of such acts by the government
Here they come. It was 1 am. With heads bowed and fingers clicking away voraciously on their communication gadgets, they sit in circles with looks of amusement and high expectations on their faces.
They tap endlessly and anxiously on their computers and laptops in most cases. They are no other than Yahoo Boys! While some are seen jubilating for a victory, some others still wear a look of apprehension, hoping to clinch their targets, generally referred to Mugu. Not that the Yahoo business is new or news in the Nigeria society but that it has seemingly become an acceptable and standard way of making money is what has become worrisome especially in Lagos.
The Yahoo trade that was formerly a hide and seek affair is now openly celebrated. The attention and praise the society gives to these boys is also a major source of concern. New Telegraph gathered that almost all the hotels and guest houses in Lagos State have special sections, rooms and lounges to accommodate the internet fraudsters because of the huge money they get in return.
Musicians also have become praise singers promoting the tenets of the Yahoo trade. It has become a common occurrence to see the guys “Yahoo Boys” as they are popularly called, on the streets fighting one another, shouting, maiming one another, thereby disturbing the peace and serenity of their immediate environments, especially hotels and their private quarters, which is usually situated in enviable locations of the state.
More so, Yahoo has become a business characterized by drama of all sorts. In one hotel in Egbeda last week, it was reported that a Yahoo boy turned to a snake while locked up in the hotel room with his girl friend, who was evacuated from the room as a corpse.
Also, in the Ikeja axis of the state, Yahoo boys were reportedly in a fight that led to the lockdown of the affected estate for several weeks. Not only that, the Yahoo trade, like every other business that thrives on false identity, has certain consequences on not just the people involved but also on the society at large.
Speaking with some Lagos residents on perceived effect of popularity of the trade on the society, a mother of one, amidst tears, said that her 11-year-old son, who is still in the elementary class, advised her to go into the Yahoo trade if she wants to make enough money for their upkeep. Miss Alicia Kedun, a teenager, who spoke with New Telegraph, said, “I don’t see anything wrong in the trade. Who does not steal?
The white men that they are cheating have already stolen from Africans. This is more of pay back.” She however confirmed her strong belief against Yahoo plus. “It is not proper to use your fellow human being for rituals.
What if you were the victim?” she quipped. In a country like Nigeria where there is acute shortage of employment opportunities, widespread poverty caused by the nation’s dwindling economy, survival has always been for the fittest. However, this quest for survival has, among other reasons, often pushed many into crime-related activities.
One of such is Yahoo business- an online- related activity that thrives largely on falsehood to defraud others. Some of those involved often in the business often indulge in fetish means to achieve their targets. Despite its prohibition by the law and waves of attack, the Yahoo business has continued to gain popularity among Nigerians, the youths especially, changing forms like a chameleon as many of them now see it an ideal business to eke out their living.
It would be recalled that the Senate had in 2014 prescribed seven years imprisonment for ‘Yahoo boys’, other cyber-related crimes, consequent upon a bill sponsored by Senator Adegbenga Kaka, and subsequently recommended by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights.
The bill, tagged: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition, Prevention, Detection, Response, Investigation and Prosecution of Cybercrimes and for Other Related Matters 2014”, among other objectives, seeks to punish the interception of data, system interference and misuse of devices. It backs punishment of all kinds of computer-related fraud, computerrelated forgery, offences relating to pornography, cyberstalking and cybersquatting, just as it seeks to promote cyber security, protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programmes, intellectual property and privacy rights.
“With the passage of this bill today and appropriate application of its prescribed laws against cyber crimes and other related matters, Nigeria will henceforth be seen as a country seriously stamping out cyber crimes, which to us here at the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, is a major milestone in our lawmaking enterprise,” Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary had said after passage of the bill.
But even after that, the business still thrives among many youths. New Telegraph findings revealed that that these fraudsters make millions more than their counterparts in legal jobs whose pay are too meagre to meet their daily needs. It also gathered that some of the youths are stuck to the business because of this perceived lucrative nature. Speaking in an interview with New Telegraph, some of the ‘Yahoo Boys’ bared the minds on why they resorted to such business.
According to Gboyega, who has been in the business for three years, he was forced to join Yahoo boys because of the biting economic situation in the country.
He said: “The main reason I joined then was because I didn’t want to depend on my parents for stipends any longer. I am above 22 years and I can’t be depending on my parents for clothing. I only ask my parents for school fees.”
On the amount he makes from yahoo, he revealed that it is not constant. According to him, sometimes, his clients only send iTunes cards which are just stipends he could manage. He went on to add that the business has no specific season. “So far you are connected with clients; there is nothing to worry about.
My clients pay in dollars that I change to Naira in the bank. Bank charges also apply anytime we want to cash out through money gram. Most of my clients are US based,” he said. Another one who identified himself simply as Femi, however dismissed the quick-rich theory associated with the business, pointing out that he some times-endured difficulties in securing clients.
He said: “Yahoo is not as easy as people think. Yahoo is not easy at all. You can be searching for clients for more than three months before you get someone who is ready to listen to you. Sometimes, you can be chatting with a client and he may block you. You know what that takes. You have to start all over again. It is stressful and involves your intellectual skill.
You must be intelligent.” Femi, who has been into Yahoo for more than five years, said that he got involved in the trade because his parents could not afford to pay his school fees. Now that he has started, he has been the one footing his bills. Femi revealed that there are several applications yahoo boys use to chat with clients, one of which is Facebook.
According to him, it only requires getting the pictures of the person whose identity would be misused.
“Few weeks ago, I got N360, 000. Although, I have not been able to get anything for over two months until I got the money. I would use it to foot my bills this January.”
Also speaking, Teniola Tewogbade, a final year female student involved in Yahoo trade, said she has been in the business since her first year in college. According to her, losing her parents at a very young age led her to the streets after her Uncle refused to take up her responsibility despite all the promises.
“Life on the street is very harsh. When I noticed that I had to fend for myself and that through prostitution, I had to take to Yahoo Yahoo. The money I make from Yahoo business helps me to live an independent life, but I don’t do Yahoo plus,” She said.
Aside Yahoo business, another of such illegal activities is prostitution, which is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment either as money, goods, services, or some other benefit agreed upon by the transacting parties. Like Yahoo business, cases of prostitution have been on the increase in the recent times, especially in densely-populated cities like Lagos.
In spite of some grave consequences attached to the practice such as contacting deadly diseases like HIV/AIDs, and eventually even death in the process, it has continued to stand the test of time, even when the Nigerian law prohibits it. Findings by New Telegraph revealed that many girls below 18 years of age are now trooping into prostitution.
Some of them who spoke with our correspondent revealed why they resorted to prostitution. One of them who identified herself as Kate, said that since she lost her parents in a ghastly accident at the age of 12, she had no option when some of her friends advised her to join them in prostitution. She said that, “when I hear people condemning prostitution as if it is too deadly, I usually laugh them off because such people had never been in a hopeless situation like mine.
Since I lost my parents at a very early age of 12, I have been catering all alone for myself. Though I am not really happy with the stigma associated with it, I have always encouraged myself because it has remained my only hope of survival for now.”
Asked if she would drop prostitution for better opportunities, she said, “why not? The question is where will that opportunity come from? Even graduates are out there jobless.”
In the same vein, another person who indulges in prostitution but who does want her name in print said government should stop coming after them, noting that they (government) should first put in place programmes that would sustain them if they drop such practice. “This job is really risky. I am sure you (this reporter) are also aware of that fact.
But should we drop it and take to armed robbery? Government should stop making noise, because it will not stop us. We can only consider quitting if we have better alternatives on ground.”
Tricycles on a mission to kill
With just a few days to her daughter’s wedding, Alhaja Aminat could not contain her excitement. It had always been her dream, to witness her daughter’s wedding in grand style. After exchanging pleasantries with a few neighbours, she set out to the market to get expensive cloth materials.
As a faster means of transportation, she had opted for a tricycle on her way back home; little did she know that it was going to be a death trap. The tricycle she boarded had weaved its way amidst two trucks and got stuck. While the tricycle driver tried to wriggle out of the mess, a chain on one of the trucks caught Alhaja Aminat’s lace blouse and all efforts to remove this proved futile. Almost immediately, the road was free and the truck dragged her down from the tricycle and unto to her death.
With a population of over 20 million inhabitants, Lagos mega city is renowned for the presence of huge gridlock in almost all the major areas in the state. In an effort to improve transportation system in Lagos state, several transportation means have been introduced: Danfo, Molue, Motorcycles, Bus Rapid Transits, and the tricycles are not left out.
Following the recent ban placed on motorcycles as a result of accidents recorded on bikes, the tricycle became accepted as the newer safer and faster substitute. It was considered a safer substitute because of the considerable amount of protection it had from outside elements. Information gathered also indicates that the Napep, as a poverty eradication scheme, accommodates more people, accrues more money than the motorcycle.
However, there seem to be a twist in the glamorous history of Keke Napep in Lagos state. Recently, accident rates involving tricycles is skyrocketing based on media reports. Residents and commuters complain of the recklessness of the drivers of these tricycles who seem to be on a mission: a mission to murder.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Mr. Chris Nwachukwu, a resident of Ejigbo area said that the recklessness of the tricycle drivers is gradually on an incredible increase in the state, “If I say that the Keke Napep or Maruwa as is commonly is still being operated with much responsibility; that would be a lie. The way these people drive now is not good at all. I call for thorough checking on the activities of these drivers who behave like mad men. I’m speaking from experience. I usually board a Keke Napep from my house to Idimu and the way they drive sometimes makes you want to eat out your heart. They do not even care about themselves not to talk of the passengers. If you complain to them, they do not want to listen to you.”
He averred that accidents are not really recorded on the road, but believes that there should be a check on the activities of these drivers who maneuver their ways around big vehicles capable of crushing the tricycle and its occupants.
Mrs. Iyabo Ayanwale stated that because of the portable nature and capacity of the tricycle, she prefers it to other means of transport but that the way the drivers operate nowadays is irresponsible.
According to her, Keke Napep drivers do not observe traffic guidelines that are meant to protect road users. She said, “As someone who sweats a lot, I preferred the Keke Napep to Yellow Buses because Maruwa accommodates less people and allows for air to come in but I don’t like the way they drive now. It is now very annoying. They climb bumps anyhow and jerk too constantly as if the people there are not human beings.”
She added that she doesn’t board the tricycle again, since the time she witnessed an accident scene that was caused by the tricycle driver.
Mr. Ojo Adewole, a driver, believes that the cause of the recklessness of these drivers is because there is no check on the activities of the drivers by the LASTMA officials. “It is very obvious that the Maruwa drivers do not observe the bumps on the roads, traffic lights, or even LASTMA directives, but I believe that the LASTMA officials are the ones to be blamed. I have been in situations where the Maruwa driver would just drive past long lanes even when a LASTMA official is there and the official won’t say anything to that. If it was a bus, they would run after the bus and make the driver face the consequences but why is Maruwa an exception?” he quipped.
He asserted that the free hands the LASTMA officials had given to the Maruwa drivers is the cause of the constant carelessness of the drivers and refusal to look into it would result in an uncontrollable situation, which he believes, is already happening. “The other day, a Keke Napep driver almost hit a LASTMA official because the man thought that he had stopped vehicles from that lane so he turned his back to that lane and kept directing the vehicles on another lane. He didn’t know that a Keke Napep would surface from behind him and almost knock the life out of him; still the LASTMA did not stop the Keke Napep driver.”
Speaking with New Telegraph, some of the tricycle drivers in the state debunked the claims that they were driving recklessly.
Mr. Kolawole Oyekan, a tricycle driver claims that he does not drive recklessly and knows that his colleagues do not also; that the allegations of reckless driving are unnecessary and unfair to their trade, “As commercial drivers, our own duty is to transport people to their destinations not to drive them to their death. My own Keke, the Lagos state government empowered me with it so that I can make money with it and I follow the rules and regulations guiding this business. I don’t drive anyhow, I observe traffic light and I respect LASTMA officials. Those people don’t tolerate nonsense, they are friends with transporters but if you go against the law, you can never go scot-free.”
Another driver, who prefers to be known as Sulaiman told New Telegraph that he believes there are some people who want to kick out the Keke Napep scheme from Lagos state. “We don’t drive recklessly at all. Lagos is not an ordinary state were actions can go unchecked, there are appropriate measures in place to checkmate recklessness and we dare not contravene these rules, we observe them to the letter because if we get caught in any trouble, that might cost us our means of livelihood and you know that a jobless man is a dead man. Please help us tell them that we are responsible people who know how to do our jobs well. We will and are always ready to serve Lagosians.”
LASTMA officials also respond to the allegations of the unwarranted freedom granted to Keke Napep drivers in the state. An official who preferred to stay anonymous stated that the claims were untrue and fallacious as LASTMA officials perform their duties as expected.
Lagos’ fences are collapsing
Vandals are gradually destroying wire-mesh fencing mounted on the Lagos highways by the Lagos State government for safety and protection of pedestrians, passengers and motorists. Muritala Ayinla reports
When Governor Akinwunmi Ambode vowed to govern cheaper by saving N3bn monthly from the cost of governance, many people wondered how that would be possible giving the inflation rate in the country and ever increasing needs of the residents in the state. Many had considered the declaration as one of the political statements unconsciously made by Nigeria political office holders. Few months after, Lagosians and indeed some observers in the state began to notice financial re-engineering which gave room for relocation of the government agencies from their hitherto rented apartments to the State Secretariat, Alausa and other buildings belonging to the state government.
Possibly, billions of naira previously paid to their respective property owners where the agencies were using as offices is now being saved by the government through the policy and other financial re-engineering and review of the revenue and expenditure framework of the state government.
Beyond other financial restructuring strategies which are only known to the financial experts, one of the strategies used by the administration to reduce the cost of governance was the reduction in the cost of enforcing the law through the establishment Wire-mesh Fencing in all the newly roads constructed and rehabilitated roads to bring about safety and orderliness. With wired fences and pedestrian bridges constructed in some parts of the state, which many agree have contributed to the remarkable traffic flow on the highways, the government has been able to save the cost enforcing the environmental law.
Hawkers no longer have a field day on Lagos highway just as pedestrians do not cross the highway indiscriminately like before. Without the law enforcement officers running after the pedestrians or hawkers, everyone now adopts the right approach of commuting on the highways and the new lay-bys. The Wire-mesh Fencing placed on the roads median has indeed engendered sanity despite the fact that some will naturally ignore pedestrian bridge to cross the highway without consideration for the risk involved. Whether one likes it or not, one is forced to use the pedestrian bridges, walkways or other designated places. With the fences, pickpockets, robbers and other criminals who emerge from nowhere and snatch valuables from unsuspecting pedestrians before disappearing into their hideouts have also being prevented from operating easily. The presence of the wired fences has displaced some street traders who display their wares or goods on the roads.
However, as commendable as the installation of the Wire-mesh Fencing,vandals, who many described as environmental offenders and “enemies of change” are gradually destroying the fence, with nearly no efforts to get the perpetrators arrested and possibly prosecuted.
From Ojota to Ketu, some of the fences are either being pulled out or vandalized; From Berger on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to Ojodu Abiodun, the fences have been destroyed and not yet fixed or replaced. The stories are the same in Oshodi, Alapere and some other busy areas, which have the fences.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Mrs. Lanre Kasimawo, a roadside trader appealed to the government to fix the damaged wire in the interest of the safety of Lagos residents and commuters. According to her, the incidents of hit-and-run on the expressway have been reduced since most people now use the bridges, especially with the constant provision of light on the bridges at night.
Although, the woman attributed the installation of the fence on the low sale and patronage by their customers, saying many of them who would have ordinarily crossed the expressway to buy goods from them would not want to take a long walk again to their shops after using the pedestrian bridge.
On his part, Segun Rahim, banker, wondered why most Nigerians resist change and ideal ways of living. He lamented that he was shock to see that some of the fences get vandalized daily. “Government must rise to the occasion, the Governor meant well to have come with the idea and we have all seen that it works. No more traffic and the fencing has brought about civility. So, Governor Ambode must prove that, we have maintenance culture and tax payers’ money must not be wasted by the vandals.”
Also speaking, an officer in the Rapid Respond Squad, didn’t want his name mentioned on the ground that he was not authorized to speak, said that the police are doing great jobs by arresting the vandals and prosecuting them. According to him, the vandals are the criminals who operated easily before the government came up with the idea; he said that their findings revealed that the vandals turned to destroy the fences because they make their operation tedious. “The Light-up cable vandals too are constantly arrested and prosecuted. We will definitely go after vandals of the fences too and make it known publicly at least to serve as deterrent to other criminals,” he said.
Noise pollution on the rise
Mega cities are usually known for their humongous volume of population coupled with rising influx of people into such cities daily. Consequently, there will be proportional boost in the number of people at bars, restaurants, salon, churches, and mosques. In return, the level of noise produced in these places increases. Lagos as a mega city is no exception to this as there is an observable increase in noise pollution across the state.
A stroll down the streets of Lagos reveals vans with deafening loudspeakers ranting the benefits of a brand to people; two or three brand ambassadors were seen sharing handbills highlighting the prices, benefits and location to people. In major market areas, are these same vans with a small stage created for dancers who attract passersby with their craft as they twist and toss to the music produced from a nearest loudspeaker which is always on a high pitch.
In their efforts to make a request to God, some religious houses in the state have allegedly succeeded in disturbing the peace of neighbours through vigils, thunderous applauds and call to prayers that are usually done through loudspeakers directed to those outside the place of worship. In addition, one notable nature of Lagos mega city is the blasting sirens and horns that livens the highway.
However, according to a review paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, loud sounds from sirens and horns may increase the risk of heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypertension and heart failure.
Corroborating these observations and likely consequences Lagos residents groan amidst the noise pollution calling on the state government to do something about the level of pollution before it gets out of hand.
Dominion Agboola, a teacher stated that noise pollution is really on the rise and very disturbing. “On my street alone, there are three churches and these churches hold vigils and other programs at intervals, it is always like switching. When one finishes its 7days vigil, another would start 5days crusade, when that one stops, the next one would begin 21days miracle program. It is very hard for us to sleep in peace after many hours of laborious work. We go to church too!” he quipped.
Speaking on what the community had done to control the situation; Agboola revealed that the people in the area had complained to the leaders of the religious houses in question but that none of their requests had been granted. He stated that the community first wrote a letter to the leaders of the religious groups inviting them for a meeting, which they attended, complaints were laid bare and the solution was proposed: that the churches have to reduce the volume of their loudspeakers since those they are preaching to, are already inside the church with them.
He continued, “One of them said nothing, the other one said that it is not possible for him to do that because some people are in their homes praying along with them. The third one said that the people of the community ought to be grateful for the presence of a church in the area that all the prayers offered to God are also done for the sake of the residents in the area. In fact, by the time they got back, it multiplied.”
Miss Olayiwola Yemi, a youth corps member in the Ikotun axis also lamented the increase in noise pollution. She said that her house is near a mosque and the window to her bedroom is particularly close to the speaker such that whenever the muezzin makes a call to prayer, she rises out of her bed and relocates to the couch in the sitting room where the noise is minimal. “If I had come to check the house myself before paying the rent, I wouldn’t have agreed to stay here. I was in need of accommodation so I didn’t even bother to check. A friend of mine recommended the place to me and I trusted her judgment. Another friend of hers had packed out from here and she asked me to take up the room. Well, she is not totally wrong, the place is peaceful, calm and very okay as she claimed but the loudspeaker aspect was mentioned, she might not even know about it because I learnt that the person that packed out is a Muslim, so there was probably no offence in that.”
She added that she respects the religious views of everyone and made efforts to get the landlord to speak with the leaders of the mosque to redirect the speaker which he did but that there has been no difference as the leaders claimed that they had considered a best direction to place the speaker even before the house was built that there would be no change in that. “So what do I do? I keep switching from bedroom to parlour everyday; after all it is only a room and a parlour.”
Speaking with New Telegraph, Joshua Omoyeni, a gymnastic coach said that the major areas where government should tackle noise pollution is not that of religious houses but that of public places such as bars, restaurants, hotels among others. He averred that whether it is a Christian or Muslim religious house, all that is being offered is prayer but that bars and restaurants should be the main headache of the government as these places, he believes, constitute nuisance to the environment.
He said, “The government should checkmate the excesses of these hotels, club houses, bars and the likes. The people that are complaining about mosques and churches might have their reasons but how many days will church hold vigils? Mosque would definitely make a call to prayers every day, but for how many minutes? These bars and clubs are everyday workers, in fact every night and it is not for some minutes or for some hours, it is a thing that continues till the next morning. Fridays are worse; sometimes I might be forced not to go home on Fridays because it is usually louder and longer. Probably, they believe that everybody rests at home on Saturdays but some of us don’t.”
He also complained about the type of noises produced in the hotel near his house, which he referred to as “ungodly”.
A teacher, Mr. Adams Muyiwa, stated that the current level of noise pollution, if not addressed would have negative effects on the academic performance of students in Lagos state. Governments of mega cities around the world are known for their efforts towards providing comfort for their people one of which is the eradication of all forms of pollution in the state. Thus, issues bordering on the protection of the environment have been a major priority of the state government. This could be said to be responsible for the establishment of the Lagos state environmental police agency, LASEPA that perform a range of functions one of which is controlling to its barest minimum, noise pollution in Lagos state.
The objective of the pollution control department states thus, “Attending to public complaints on noise pollution from religious worship centers, night clubs, record/studio shops, hotels etc”
The agency which was established in 2013 had shut down a number of public places where the rule guiding noise pollution have been contravened, however, there seem to be a slack in the discharge of duties as LASEPA has refused to heed the cries of the masses against the current increase in the level of noise pollution in the state.
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