We kill people to buy Benz – Yahoo Boy
The psychology of a teen ritualist
Untold horror of Yahoo-plus
Samuel Akpobome, 18, wanted to be rich. So, he strangled his mother to death and removed her briefs. Then he mounted her corpse and raped it. The victim, Christiana Ighoyivwi, didn’t see it coming. Perhaps because no mother ever worries about being murdered and raped by her own son. Akpobome pounced on her while she slept, at her residence on Market Road, Ologbo, Ikpoba-Okha local council, Delta State.
The youngest child of the deceased claimed to have acted on the instructions of One Love, a native doctor. He said, “I wanted to use her for money ritual. I strangled her; she was sleeping when I strangled her around 5 am. I was advised by One Love, a native doctor in Oghara, to kill her. After killing her, I slept with her. The native doctor told me to do so and keep her corpse for two days.”
According to him, One Love persuaded him to use his mother for money rituals. “He promised to give me N50,000 if I cut her ears and fingers, and bring them to him,” said Akpobome.
But just before he disemboweled his mother, he got caught. His grandmother saw him with her daughter’s lifeless body and sounded an alarm, which led to his arrest.
“I could not find a place to keep it (corpse). As I was about coming out, I did not know that my grandmother was sitting outside. When I opened the door, she saw the corpse inside the room and raised the alarm that drew the attention of neighbours,” said Akpobome.
Following his arrest, the 18-year-old led the police to One Love’s apartment but the native doctor had absconded.
Three years since the gory incident, Nigeria still grapples with the chimera of fetishized wealth as teenagers, as young as 15 years, prowl the country’s neighbourhoods for anyone they could kill for money ritual.
A few weeks ago, Nigeria jolted to more jarring news as Emomotimi Magbisa, 15, Perebi Aweke, 15, and Eke Prince, 15, all boys and natives of Sagbama in Bayelsa State were arrested for trying to use a 13-year-old girl, Comfort, for money ritual.
Spokesperson of the Bayelsa State Command, Police Superintendent Asinim Butswat’s confirmation of the teenagers’ arrest for attempted ritual killing knelled a chilly note. The trio, said Butswat, accosted their victim, “hypnotized” her, and afterwards led her to Magbisa’s apartment. There, they cut her finger and sprinkled her blood on a mirror for ritual purposes. The ritual was supposed to make them rich. But for vigilant village youths, Comfort would have been history, perhaps.
The youths noticed the suspicious movements of the suspects and monitored them. “The suspects were subsequently arrested and some substances suspected to be charms were recovered from them. They have confessed to the crime,” said Butswat.
A creepier dimension ensued a few days after the arrest of the Bayelsa trio as three other boys between 17 and 20 years were arrested in the early hours of Saturday, January 29, by men of the Ogun State Police Command for allegedly killing their friend’s girlfriend in a money ritual.
The suspects, Wariz Oladehinde, 17, Abdul Gafar Lukman, 19, and Mustakeem Balogun, 20, were arrested after the head of their neighbourhood’s community vigilance group reported at the Adatan Police Divisional Headquarters, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, that the suspects were seen burning something suspected to be a human head in a local pot.
The DPO Adatan division, SP Abiodun Salau, led his detectives to the scene, where the trio was arrested. The boyfriend of the murdered girl, Soliu Majekodumi, 18, who took to his heels, was subsequently apprehended.
On interrogation, the suspects confessed that what they were burning in the local pot was the head of Majekodunmi’s girlfriend, Rofiat, who was reportedly lured by her boyfriend to where she was murdered by the quartet.
Afterwards, they cut off her head, packed her remains in a sack, and dumped it in an old building.
At their arrest, they led policemen to the building where the dismembered body was recovered and deposited at the mortuary for autopsy. The short cutlass and a knife used in cutting off the deceased’s head were also recovered.
Ogun State Commissioner of Police (CP) Lanre Bankole ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to the homicide section of the state criminal investigation and intelligence department for a subsequent court arraignment.
The boys’ actions aren’t accidental; from plotting to execution, a hideous smattering of bestiality manifests as their victims’ misfortune and society’s just deserts. Yet the boys are neither freaks nor social accidents, they are simply karma coming home to roost, perhaps.
‘We kill people to buy Benz’
Why would teenage boys engage in money-making rituals? What would they do with stupendous wealth if they had it? “Baba, na to arrange (buy) Benz. Gather pepper (money), run all man for five-star VIP (five-star hotel VIP suite). Money sweet baba. Ask the ladies. Ask maale (mom). Poverty stink die! (Poverty is reprehensible). No matter how hardworking you are, you become smello (poverty makes you smell no matter how resourceful you are), said ‘Sayo Michael, a self-confessed internet fraudster.
“I was a smello before. But the game made me rich. I am a Game Boy now. Yes, I am a Game Boy. I don’t give a f..k. I hustle for my money. Hustle na hustle. Policeman, politician, businessman, olosho (commercial sex worker)…Everybody’s in the game. We are all hustlers. Yahoo ni babalawo, ole ni everybody,” he drawled, mouthing off on Naira Marley’s Soapy lyrics.
Since Michael became a “Game Boy,” his life has remarkably improved. He “sleeps in choice hotels’ presidential suites, he drives expensive cars and enjoys expensive sex with expensive babes – mostly older females.”
While Michael scoffed at insinuations that he is into Yahoo Plus, a diabolical variant of cyber-fraud, the fraudster, who clocked 19 this year, bragged that he enjoys “very strong spiritual support” from his mother. “My mother is my god. Orisa bi iya o si,” he said.
It would be recalled that the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, lamented in 2019 that mothers of cyber-fraudsters aka Yahoo boys, are now organising themselves into an association to protect their sons from perceived “harassment” and arrest from law enforcers.
The meaning of Yahoo-Plus.
“Yahoo-Plus” refers to a situation whereby an internet fraudster aka Yahoo-Boy adopts intense diabolical and “spiritual” measures to enchant and hoodwink unsuspecting victims abroad. The measure became the last resort of most internet scammers as hitherto unsuspecting mugus (foreign targets) became more vigilant and less vulnerable to their antics.
“Oyinbo don wise up. Maga no dey pay any more, unless you use ibile. (Prospective victims are wiser now. They won’t fall victim unless you use diabolical means to hypnotise them),” said Akinjide, 21, a self-confessed “Game Boy” (Yahoo-Boy or internet fraudster).
Travails of adult women, girls dating teenage Yahoo Boys
A curious development persists with the intense jostling between teenage girls and adult women for the love of Yahoo Boys.
“It has become the norm for some women to seduce underage Yahoo Boys, into their bed and amorous relationships simply because those boys have money. They don’t care how they come by the money. They only wish to enjoy it with them,” said Biola Balogun, a boutique attendant.
The 18-year-old said she lost her 19-year-old childhood friend and “first love” to an older acquaintance. “She is the aunt to our mutual friend. She snatched my boyfriend while pretending to help him get spiritual fortification from her prophet,” said Balogun, who still nurses hopes of reclaiming her “first love.”
She argued that her boyfriend is under a spell. “That woman charmed him. But every charm has an expiration date. I will get him back. He will come begging when it clears from his psyche,” she said.
A lot of girls dating Yahoo Boys seek protective charms and prayers before “hooking up” with those boys, argued Tunde, a “prophet” and proprietor of a mobile banking services centre in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos. A member of a white garment church said that many girls and their mothers have approached him to help fortify them against likely diabolical attacks from their Yahoo Boy “fiance” or boyfriend. They do so with the belief that at some point, their Yahoo Boy partners may try to “use” them to “renew” their money ritual. Once they are “fortified” they can withstand and survive any form of attack from their boyfriends, he explained.
Some have been known to take their Yahoo boyfriends to spiritualists for further fortification. In such a situation, they engage in oath-taking rites to prevent them from betraying each other.
An auto mechanic, Kabiru Iyanda, recounted how his 23-year-old daughter dropped out of school in her third year and moved in with a 19-year-old Yahoo-Boy. So doing, she dumped her insurance marketer boyfriend – who reportedly sponsored her education from her first school year – for the teenager whom everybody knew to be into “Yahoo Plus,” he said.
The latter reportedly promised to fund his daughter’s cosmetics and clothing business and shopping trips to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Eventually, he relocated her mother, with whom, he was estranged, to a grand apartment in Ikeja GRA, Lagos, where he allegedly “used both mother and daughter to renew his money ritual.”
“But how do I prove such? There is no court of law that would prosecute the culprit for what he did. My wife and daughter died excreting maggots and blood. My wife confessed while we were seeking spiritual healing for them, that she had also been sexually involved with her daughter’s boyfriend,” lamented Iyanda.
Yahoo Plus…the origins
Spiritual and magical powers, despite their denial by dominant culture, have become a ubiquitous part of Nigerian lives, particularly among the youth.
The reality of the Yahoo-Plus, for instance, attests to the contemporaneity of the age-old practice of the money ritual.
In the wake of teenage boys’ dalliances with the killer culture of human sacrifices, there have been increasing calls for government and security agencies to focus on the spiritual aspects and consequences of digital crimes.
The use of spiritual powers to defraud victims in cyberspace is an offshoot of the Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) which criminals themselves refer to as a ‘game.’ Hence the modern derivation of the ”Game Boy” sobriquet among internet fraudsters.
Most “Game Boys’ engage in online versions of advance fee fraud (AFF) locally known as ‘Yahoo Yahoo.’
In several ways, their actions resonate cultural precedents peculiar to their immediate environment and social milieu. Their actions are hardly alien to the Nigerian historical and cultural experience.
In the 1940s, some colonial headteachers observed that a group of schoolboys (money doublers) were into diabolic manipulation, skullduggery, and scams. These “money doublers” widely known as Wayo-Boys, closely collaborated with indigenous spiritual knowers, such as herbalists or “native doctors.” While these “money doublers or Wayo-Boys” were implicated in defrauding many victims in Western societies with scam letters and magical amulets, “money doubling” has always been associated with mystical powers in this context.
On August 4, 2004, some 50 officers of the Nigerian police, including elements of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), raided a complex consisting of a number of shrines in Umuhu Okija village, in the Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State. In the wooded groves where the principal shrines were located, the police found human skulls and the remains of dozens of corpses, some of them dismembered, some in coffins, others lying by the side of the path.
Following this discovery, the police arrested a number of people whom they suspected of being officials of the Okija shrine, most of whom appear to have been members of one extended family. Eventually, the police paraded before the press in the national capital, Abuja, 31 suspects arrested in connection with the discovery of 83 corpses – including 63 that were headless – and twenty skulls.
The case attracted massive interest in the Nigerian press, particularly when it was confirmed that leading politicians had visited the shrine and sworn oaths there. Underlying much of the press commentary was the implication that the shrine may have been the site of so-called ‘ritual murders.
A member of the national House of Representatives, a former chair of the caucus of representatives from the southeast of the country, publicly admitted that most of the members of the House from his part of the country had in fact patronized shrines like that at Okija.
One of the most notorious such cases – which had a slight connection to the Okija shrine occurred on September 19, 1996, when an 11-year-old groundnut hawker, Anthony Ikechukwu Okoronkwo, was invited into a hotel in Owerri, Imo State, by Innocent Ekeanyanwu, aged 32, a gardener. Ekeanyawu reportedly treated the boy to a spiked bottle of Coca-Cola. In a matter of minutes, the boy dozed off, and he bore his limp body into one of the hotel rooms, where he severed the boy’s head, disemboweled his torso, removed his liver, genitals, and other parts that he needed. After butchering the boy, he sorted out the organs, packed the head in a polythene bag, and buried his remains. The Butcher, Ekeanyanwu then took the polythene bag containing the boy’s head and headed for the next destination: to the house of the man who needed the fresh head.
The crime was later reported by a commercial motorcyclist who realized that his passenger was carrying a fresh human head, still dripping with blood. The bike man alerted the police, who intercepted Ekeanyanwu still with the head.
Following media exposure of the culprit’s image with the fresh human head, on live television, Owerri was engulfed in an orgy of violence as the people went on a rampage, destroying property of individuals perceived to be ritualists and advance-fee fraudsters. Chief Vincent Duru, proprietor of the popular Otokoto Hotel, Amakohia, a suburb of Owerri, who was named as the mastermind of the ritual killing of Master Okonkwo had his hotel torched.
In the end, some 25 buildings, including at least one church were burned by an irate mob. Duru, one of the men convicted in the celebrated case was reportedly hung six years ago. His sentence was carried out on Sunday, November 13, 2016, about 20 years after the Otokoto saga and 13 years after his 2003 conviction.
On March 24, 2014, Nigeria stirred to confusion when a kidnappers’ den was discovered in Soka community, Ibadan, Oyo State. The den was discovered by some commercial motorcyclists, who were searching for two of their colleagues after they took two passengers to the community without returning. The police found human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims who were being reserved for ritual purposes at the grove. Some victims’ personal effects including shoes, bags, and identity cards were also seen at the site.
Since the 2014 shocking discovery at Soka, there have been multiple revelations of suspected ritual killings, especially in the southwest of the country.
Parents, ghoulish spirituality to blame
The recent slew of ritual killings committed by teenage boys seeking stupendous and sudden wealth, in particular, has aroused fears among widespread segments of the country in recent times.
It reestablishes the ugly realities of the contemporary value system in the country; one of these realities is the get-rich-quick syndrome among most Nigerians.
“Many parents readily justify their children’s desperation to get rich at all cost. Parents of Yahoo Boys, including those doing Yahoo Plus, will readily tell you that their children are only being smart. I have a case of an acquaintance who encouraged his child to drop out of school and bought him a laptop. Then he took him to a Yahoo Boy to help train him as an internet fraudster. That is the sort of value system we run in the country at the moment,” said Shukqroh Adekunle, a school guidance counsellor.
The inordinate quest to acquire sudden wealth at all costs thrives by the belief among widespread segments of the citizenry that the spirit world is the true source of material wealth. In particular, many Nigerians believe that no one could succeed in his or her career, whether in a crime or legitimate profession, without securing divine blessings, first and foremost, from spiritual beings.
This mindset is fed by the notion that there are certain events in life that hard work or physical strength cannot achieve except one understands and possess some spiritual powers, argued Dr. Suleman Lazarus, a sociologist with the London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom (UK).
video bragging that they depend on ‘juju’ not ‘grace’
The poverty argument
The situation is aggravated by a persistent loss of faith in the country’s leadership and socioeconomic system. There is currently no social welfare programme that offers health care assistance, non-discriminatory entrepreneurial loans, food stamps, and unemployment compensation, among others to deserving citizenry divides. The absence of such initiatives wreaked untold havoc on the citizenry at the outbreak of COVID-19, leading to increased crime, for instance.
While government intervention efforts focused on the poor citizenry, presumed middle-class segments have lost their jobs, suffered arbitrary salary cuts, and lack of access to welfare relief that could help them cope with the economic hardship foisted by COVID-19.
There are no housing subsidies, energy and utility subsidies, and assistance for other basic services to individuals that are most affected by the pandemic.
At the backdrop of these challenges, the numbers of the unemployed sky-rockets.
A 2019 World Bank report shows that Nigeria created about 450,000 new jobs in 2018, partially offsetting the loss of jobs in 2017. And while over five million Nigerians entered the labour market in 2018, the number of unemployed increased by 4.9 million in 2019. More radical estimates indicate that over 18 million youths were unemployed by the end of 2019. Many more have lost their livelihoods in the wake of COVID-19.
Money ritual thus flourishes in Nigeria amid widespread poverty. By the end of 2013, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report on Nigeria’s poverty index revealed that about 61.2% of Nigerians were living on less than $1 (dollar) a day. With such a large percentage of Nigerians living in poverty, money ritual has become an escape route for young people from the trap of poverty, according to Stephanie Anyanwu, a financial risks analyst.
‘Poverty not to blame!’
Pa Olabisi Tilewa, however, dismissed claims of impoverishment as the major push for teenage boys engaging in money rituals. According to him, “I come from humble roots. My parents were stark poor but they raised me right. Back then, they taught me and my siblings to value hard work, honest industry. They taught us to fear God. I think most teenagers doing Yahoo Plus are victims of bad parenting. They have been led astray from childhood by their parents and guardians. Many of them are from broken homes. And those that aren’t from broken homes were raised badly, to be corrupt and circumvent the slow, steady path to success.”
The 64-year-old retired civil servant and farmer stated that to end the malaise of killer-teenagers using people for money rituals, Nigeria must declare a national emergency over the situation. The state must actively get involved in how we raise our children. We must go back to the conservative values of old and inculcate them into our young ones, the parents inclusive, he said.
Worried by the rising teenage killings, the Federal Government has ordered filmmakers to take out money ritual content from their movies. Information and Culture minister, Lai Mohammed, who announced this on Monday during a media visit in Abuja said some of the suspected ritual killers claimed that they learnt the act of ritual killings on social media and this has prompted the Federal Government to sanitise the system.
“Many have also blamed Nollywood for featuring money rituals in movies, saying this has negatively influenced the vulnerable youth. To mitigate this, I have directed the National Film and Video Censors Board, the body set up to regulate the film and video industry in Nigeria, to take this issue into consideration while performing its role of censoring and classifying films and videos.” the minister said
Living in Bondage, Women’s Cot, among others, end up glamourising ritual killings, irrespective of whatever lessons they were meant to teach. The subliminal messages propagated by such movies have over time manifested as a vigorous push to individuals and groups predisposed to murderous lust a la money ritual.
Worried by the menace of ritual killings by Yahoo Boys, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has equally vowed to sustain its war on internet fraudsters many of whom, it said, have resorted to spiritual dimensions in their criminalities.
The EFCC has arrested several Yahoo Boys and paraded them with the charms caught with them over the years. Some of them have been fingered in ritual killings.
But the anti-graft commission, recently, stated that it would not be business as usual for anyone caught in such an act. In its recent post on Facebook, the EFCC said: “Yahoo boys now going spiritual even doing money ritual and making it a new usual we will come for those individuals, tell them it won’t be business as usual.
“No going back on the onslaught against yahoo-yahoo or yahoo-plus, whatever nomenclature. Give up, or give in. The Eagle will get you anytime, anywhere.”
The EFCC further advised anyone involved in such a crime to “give up or give in,” implying that it would take harsh measures against anyone responsible.
This comes in the wake of discoveries that several self-confessed native doctors and spiritualists prowl the social media, Facebook in particular, canvassing for clients, mostly youths and underage boys; it is curious to note that some of these native doctors are teenagers and young adults too. They make outlandish claims, guaranteeing prospective clients quick and very easy wealth. Some of them even publish on Facebook, the several stages and ingredients needed for a successful money ritual.
They highlight the different forms of money ritual including human sacrifice. This could mean anything, from using a human skull of a decomposing corpse to actually killing someone and using the victim’s body parts for money rituals.
Then there is the smaller animal sacrifice often called “Osole.” It requires the use of animals, animal parts, and plants in order to work.
Recent measures involve morbid rites including the consumption of human faeces. Then there is the persistent scare among females in the wake of money ritualists’ obsession with female underwear. Money ritualists have been caught stealing and snatching, even at gunpoint, the female underwear for money ritual, especially the used panties of a female undergoing her menstrual cycle.
The perils of engaging in money ritual
A native doctor, Pero Ifafunmito, warned against the downsides of engaging in money rituals, arguing that “It never ends well for those who do it.” He said, “The one for whom the ritual is done will only have the money for a few years. Very short few years and often at great personal cost. When he dies, his spirit would never find peace. He would roam about the earth working like a demon bearing fleeting and fill-fated wealth for lost souls like him among the living engaging in similar money rituals to the one that claimed his life.
“What most money ritualists don’t know is that the money they think they have and spend is being brought to them by tormented souls of previously departed Yahoo Boys and money ritualists. So, when they die too, they will work as a demon bearing wealth to other living ritualists. It is like being engaged in forced labour in the afterlife.” said Ifafunmito.
Whatever the import of his warning, he could tell that to the dogs; most Yahoo Boys or Game Boys, if you like, would rather engage in money rituals.
‘No be grace we dey use, na juju’
In the last quarter of 2021, a video shared online captures the moment a suspected internet fraudster (Yahoo Boy) confessed to using charms commonly known as ‘juju’ to hypnotise and defraud clients in cyberspace.
In the viral Snapchat video, the Yahoo Boy could be seen holding the charm while working with a group of other guys who were deeply engrossed working on their laptops.
He waved the charm at the camera and bragged about using juju and not divine grace to land clients, before proceeding to hit the charm on his chest.
He said, “Na juju we dey use, no be grace… next week we go confirm am.”
In a more recent online video, that went viral in January 2022, some young boys were seen cavorting in a shrine – amid the outcry over the increasing cases of teenage boys engaging in money rituals.
The boys ensured that they captured on camera every corner of the shrine evidently to show everyone what they do to get their money.
As they did, they lip-synced to King Hemjay’s “Ajitu Cruise” in the video, chanting, “No hustle o, pepeye you no go shenk. If we show you the way, shey you go fit do am? If you run too fast you go die young, if you run too slow you go die poor.”
And that is how fragile the situation is.