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.”
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