Posted by By Rita Okoye & Samod Biobaku on
•Promise mum ‘heaven on earth’
They roam the city of Lagos and beyond in search of victims. They’re not armed robbers or assassins and as such have no need to carry guns or hunting knives. But, armed with dubiously fluid tongues coupled with their cunning ability to deceive, they hit the streets ready for business.
They have earned all sorts of names but are notoriously known as Lagos fraudsters. They have come a long way and their trade is as old as age.
Many have lived to tell the story while others aren’t so lucky and are overtime declared missing.
As long as there’s a desire to make money, their existence remains unharmed. One individual who can testify to this is Charles Udoka Okoye. His six-year stay at Penny International College, Orile in Lagos hadn’t prepared him for anything like this. The 19-year-old revealed to Sunday Sun his unfortunate encounter with the fraudsters and how he narrowly escaped death.
Similarly, less than three months after, his brother, Kingsley Somtochukwu Okoye was unbelievably hypnotized into plunging his family in penury. He also spoke to Sunday Sun on his experience:
Charles meets the crooks
“On that day, my mum gave me N8, 000 for my school fees. I boarded a bus to Mile 2 from Iba Housing Estate where I live. At Mile 2, I was waiting for a bus to take me to Orile when somebody asked me if I knew a certain place. The place sounded strange so I told him I didn’t know the place. He then told me that he just came to Lagos from Senegal. He said the response he’d been getting from those he asked was: “Mi o mo.” He asked me what ‘Mi o mo” meant. I told him it meant ‘I don’t know.’”
He is enticed
“He told me he brought some containers filled with electronics, phones and Play Station games. He said he wanted someone who could market them for him. I told him I wasn’t interested and was about to leave when someone said: ‘That guy you see there has been duped.’ He said the guy was telling me the truth about the goods. He said we should try to get to know him. I asked him if he was serious and he said yes. So, both of us went to meet the guy and asked him what he had and he repeated what he had earlier told me. He even said he was initially afraid of me but that I sounded like a very good Christian who could be trusted. At the end of the chat, we agreed to go and see the containers. So, we boarded a bus and I even paid the fare for the three of us. The place was in Ajegunle.”
“No. The truth is that I had my eyes on the goods. I was already having high hopes.”
At Ajegunle hideout
“The moment we got there, a guy rushed out and said: ‘Ah! Oga we’ve been looking for you for a long time. Where did you go now?’ You know you don’t know Nigeria very well.’ The pretence went on and on but I fell for it. A certain chemical was mixed in a bucket of water and he gave me seven pieces of paper to dip and wash inside the bucket. I remember the papers looked dirty.
I did and the papers turned out to be N500 notes. I was overwhelmed and could hardly contain my joy. He told me he had about a million pieces of similar paper, which would be N500million when washed. He said my own share would be N200million if I could get money for the chemicals needed to wash the papers. I asked him how much the chemicals would cost. He said it was a certain white man and would cost N125, 000. He said my contribution would be N80, 000 since I would be taking the bigger share.”
“I was already calculating what to buy; cars to buy. I asked my mum for the kind of car she wanted to drive. I went to Alaba International Market to get the price of generators and television. Even asked her if she knew of any plot of land for sale. I was looking forward to building my own house. I had even promised to come for the televisions worth N350, 000 the following day. I also went for the cost of brand new cars. They asked me to bring a ‘Ghana must go’ bag to pack my share of the money.”
“We cut our hands to make it bleed. Then we licked each other’s blood and vowed that whoever leaked the information would die. It was three of us. I gave them the N8, 000 I had in my pocket. They gave me N50 for transport to get more money. They said I should bring any amount I could lay my hands on. They assured me that I would conveniently return the money after the operation.”
Stealing from the family
“I went to my dad’s shop but it was locked. My brother gave me N4, 000 to give my mum. I went home, searched my sister’s bag and took her money. I did the same thing with my aunt’s bag. I ransacked the whole house and got about N10, 000. I took it to the guys and proposed that we should use the money to do part of it for the mean time. They refused saying it would be better to wash everything at the same time.”
Back to his senses
“This was when my mum asked me to follow her for a crusade at the Trade Fair Complex. The time for deliverance came and the pastor asked me if I had a deal with anyone. He insisted and tried to give me confidence to confess. I refused to budge. However, at the end, I told him and added that I was asked to come for the N200million. He, however, revealed to me that the guys had planned to kill me if I showed up there again. At first I doubted him. The next day I went to the place but they had disappeared.”
419 – Part II
Kingsley, on the other hand, was on his way to CMS in Lagos. He was intercepted at Maza-maza area.
What went on from there mirrored Charles’s experience. He failed the address trick. What worsened his case was that at the hideout, he was hypnotized.
Hear him:“A man who claimed to be a pastor met us and told us all that had gone on between the two other guys and me. To tell the truth, I blindly fell for the yeye trick. He claimed God had revealed the vision to him and all that. When I look back now, I feel very stupid.”
At their Cele hideout somewhere in Oshodi, he was deceived into licking a certain candy and from that point, he would have passed for a robot awaiting instructions.
“I went to my dad’s shop to ransack the place hoping to return everything with interest. Ah! They told me a lot of lies. Ironically, I got a lot of money. It was a lot but I can’t disclose the amount. I was on the verge of carrying it to them in a massive carton when my mum met me there. She’s a minister in church. So it struck me to confirm what the fake pastor told me. She opened my eyes. She prayed for me and at the end I got over it. I’ve learnt a great lesson from the experience.”
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