Nigeria: From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’

‘Yahoo, in Nigeria,’ is not necessarily linked to ritualistic activities or – worse – murders. However, what ‘Yahoo’ has in common with ritualistic activities is the ‘get-rich-quick-mentality’. From the hijacking of email accounts and related ‘419 crimes’ to ‘money rituals’ is just one step. ‘Yahoo-plus’ represents this step. 

‘Yahoo-plus’ includes using diabolical means to get rich or become famous, and – according to the article produced below – usually involves the use of human blood. ‘Yahoo-boys’ now kill and use human parts for rituals. They use charms to get control over their victims who fear the ‘juju’ in the hands of these ‘Yahoo Yahoo boys’ (webmaster FVDK). 

Sapele youths march against Yahoo Yahoo boys

Published: September 18, 2019
By: PM New Nigeria

Youths in Sapele and its environ have staged a peaceful rally in support of the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to rid Delta State and the entire country of cybercrimes and other forms of economic and financial crimes.

The youths under the aegis of Save Sapele Group, carried banners and placards bearing various messages such as “Sapele Say No to Crime, Yahoo Yahoo, Kidnapping and Internet Fraud”, “Say No to Corruption”, “Protect our Youths, Daughters and Sisters – Say No to Yahoo Yahoo” and ” Say No to 419″, as they marched through the streets of Sapele. 

They also wore T-shirts with inscriptions condemning internet fraud popularly known as ‘yahoo yahoo’.

The youths said the rally which is coming on the heels of several arrests of cybercrime suspects in the city, was to demonstrate their disapproval of the activities of elements that engage in activities such as internet fraud, cybercrimes and kidnapping in Sapele. 

“We don’t want yahoo yahoo. We don’t want internet fraud, We say no to 419 and ritual killing”, a spokesman declared.

Tuesday’s rally in support of the Commission came few days after some youths in the area staged a protest against a sister agency, claiming that officers of the agency were instigating the frequent EFCC raid of Internet fraudsters in the city. 

Source: Sapele youths march against Yahoo Yahoo boys

From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’: Evil acts of Internet fraudsters

Published: September 19, 2019
By: Sun News Online

Internet fraudsters have intensified their means of operation by adding some diabolical features to their game. The perpetrators, who are mainly youths, now adopt all manner of conjurations to keep the cash coming their way. 

The development has become disturbing to all concerned Nigerians. Many pundits believe that the trend, popularly known as ‘Yahoo,’ is creating a lazy and purposeless generation that is desperate to get rich overnight without minding the inherent long or short-term consequence.

It is indisputable that this get-rich-quick syndrome is already denting the image of not just Nigerian citizens but the country as well. Many have expressed concern over the negative impacts the illicit activities are having on Nigeria. 

Gone are the days when the major means of getting funds by these yahoo boys was to hijack email accounts or email servers to intercept business transactions and redirect payments, or to spoof email addresses from external accounts pretending to be a company and authorising irregular payment transactions. Some of the fraudsters also used their victims’ credit cards to buy anything they wanted.

But it appears those tricks are no longer in vogue as their targets are in full grasp of virtually all the old gimmicks. Before their tactics were exposed, they had exploited many unsuspecting people, within and outside Nigeria. Their victims were fleeced of billions of naira and foreign currencies, as well as prized personal belongings. 

An undergraduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, told the reporter that two of his schoolmates were involved in ‘Yahoo-Plus,’ meaning using diabolical means to make wealth, usually involving the use of human blood. 

“People should no longer be deceived over Internet fraud. What the boys do now is killing and using human parts for rituals. Many of them also use charms to manipulate the minds and thoughts of their victims. Honestly, if you have experienced the use of juju, you will understand that it works on many people. The victims would lose control of their thoughts or actions. They would become puppets in the hands of their manipulators. It may not last for long, but for the short period it is in effect, the victims might give all they have to the fraudsters. 

“Recently, a student I know very well, who was in National Diploma 2, bought a car worth over N7 million. Everybody knew him as a yahoo boy. But something mysterious happened to his mother the last time he travelled to his hometown in Delta State. The news went round the campus of how his mother bled to death as soon as the boy stepped into their family house. 

“Some of his siblings quickly raised the alarm and out of the fear of being mobbed by his own people, he fled and has not returned till date. He didn’t also come back to the campus. He abandoned his studies and his property at the apartment that he rented,” he said. 

The source said the news did not come to most of the students as a surprise because the student in question had always boasted that he was making his money through the Internet. He stated that the student, who is now on the run, lived a flamboyant life and spent money as if it was going out of fashion. 

“There is also another student who allegedly used his younger sister for money rituals. But something seemed to have gone wrong along the line that resulted in the young man running mad. Some said that he confessed to have killed his sister to get rich. Meanwhile, everyone knew him in school as an Internet fraudster. 

“There are many others who are driving exotic cars on campus but they can’t take such vehicles home so that they won’t be questioned by their parents on their source of wealth. We know these people very well and many of them don’t hide their identities. They also belong to a clique and they don’t fail to intimidate others with their ill-gotten wealth. 

“Yahoo-Plus is the reigning thing now. Some would travel to as far as Ghana only to return within a few months and begin to spend millions of naira. They call it ‘Ghana connection.’ They organise parties now and then for no tangible reason. Any lady they want is at their beck and call, because money is there to throw around. They would disturb their neighbourhoods by blasting music,” he said.     

Different security agencies are now waging war against these breed of criminals, but they keep devising different techniques and coming out strong. It was learnt that most youths who are into this ignoble act are ready to take their chances of being caught rather than to remain poor. 

But some observers have opined that the fight against them should be intensified, urging all stakeholders, including parents and guardians, to contribute their quota to correcting societal ills. 

Investigations also revealed that some of the youth who engage in these nefarious activities are as young as 15 years. Immediately they finish their secondary education, they begin to explore the world of quick wealth. At the moment, one significant thread runs through the operations of these fraudsters: almost all of them are believed to have one form of spiritual backing that enables them to entice their victims.

Some of these fraudsters have vowed that they would not mind dying for a chance to get rich quickly through any available scheme.

“If you don’t belong to the new system, you cannot make a huge amount of money. Everybody is now into the ritual aspect because the old techniques have been exposed,” a vehicle mechanic, Eric Udoh, said in Lagos.

A Benin-based trader, who is in her 60s, Mrs. Eunice Efewedo, told the correspondent that the rate at which young boys were embracing Internet fraud and other illegitimate means of making money was alarming. 

She expressed worry that, with the way things were going, only a few youths would be enthusiastic to pursue a degree at higher institutions or learn a legitimate trade.

Said she: “The other day, one of them, who could not be more than 20 years old, bought a car for his mother. But his father quickly condemned the move by questioning his son’s source of money. The youngster just secured admission to the University of Benin that same year.

“The father insisted on getting to the root of the matter and threatened to summon an extended family meeting to discuss the issue. But before anyone knew what was happening, the boy bought a house in Government Reservation Area and relocated his mother there. 

“Sadly, the mother died two weeks after moving into the new house. The boy refused to attend her burial but he gave the family five million naira for funeral. He lied that he had an international competition to attend. Everybody became afraid of entering the well-furnished house that he built for his mother.”

She added that some of the fraudsters who have soiled their hands in diabolical ways of making money would never give out physical cash to anyone. She said those categories of people would prefer to make an online transfer or buy whatever gift using the credit card. 

“The new yahoo boys in town won’t give you money by hand but they can buy any expensive gift for you. They are doing all sorts of charms but feigning to be Internet fraudsters. Unfortunately, some parents are not rebuking their children to desist from such evil ways,” she said. 

Many have argued that the expansive spread of Internet fraud could be attributed to multiple factors, such as weak moral values among youths, peer pressure and youth unemployment, among others. But some others have countered such assertions, insisting that such crimes have no justification, as there were many acceptable ways youths could make ends meet in Nigeria, irrespective of harsh economic conditions.

A pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Province 27, Lagos, Mr. Albert Wilson, told Daily Sun that the home and society have failed in raising children with high morals. 

“The quest to possess material things by all means at the expense of contentment has caused us a lot of damage. Except we begin to have a reorientation and set our priorities right, there will continue to be a moral decay. What we preach on the pulpit, act as films, sing and discuss in politics go a long way to shape us.

“If you shield your child or relative, it means that you are part of the societal problem. We need useful information from the general public about people who engage in such acts and can be relayed to the law enforcement agencies for prompt action to be taken”, he said.

Source: From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’: Evil acts of Internet fraudsters

Nigeria – political map

Spirit Child: Ritual Killings in Ghana

Years ago, I drafted an article on infanticide in Benin for the present website on ritual killings in Africa. I never published it, because I hesitated. Thought it wasn’t ready yet. I may publish it one of these days.

This morning I ran into the article below on infanticide in Ghana – and Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria – and who knows in which other African countries this age-old practice occurs. The article is a follow-up to a 2013 investigative report of the same journalist and filmmaker, Anas Aremeyaw Anas. He fights a honorable battle against these murders, since we’re talking about the murdering of children.

Infanticide is an age-old horrible practice, but we’re living in the 21st c. and it’s absolutely necessary that governments take action in this respect. People are afraid to speak about infanticide, as Anas Aremeyaw Anas writes, since they fear the consequences of revealing a secret: death.

Witchcraft, the fear of witchcraft, superstition and ritual killings are closely related. Education can end this nexus. And economic development: jobs. It’s a fight against poverty and ignorance.

Moreover, people have the right to live without fear. It’s a human right.
(webmaster FVDK)

Spirit Child: Ritual Killings in Ghana

Published: June 3, 2018
Author: Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Published by Aljazeera

WARNING: both original articles (2018; 2013) include a film with graphic images that may be shocking.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigates the ritual killings of Ghanaian children deemed to be possessed by evil spirits.

Every year an unknown number of children – most of them disabled in some way – are murdered in northern Ghana because of the belief that they are in some way possessed by evil spirits set on bringing ill fortune to those around them.

The practice is the consequence of ancient traditions and customs and is shaped by poverty and ignorance in remote and often marginalised communities. No one knows the exact number of these ritual deaths across Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso and parts of Nigeria, but some believe it could be in the thousands.

For years, NGOs and the Ghanaian authorities have tried advocacy and education in an attempt to eradicate the practice but with only marginal success. Well into the 21st century, Ghana’s so-called spirit children are still being killed because they carry the blame for the misfortunes of everyday life.

In 2013, award-winning Ghanaian investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas set out to track down and expose some of those responsible for the senseless killings – determined to bring them to justice and stop the practice.

Back then, he wrote: “When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century … The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child.

The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them. Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.

Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child’s birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father’s inability to find work or provide money to support his dependants, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems … But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity.”

Now, five years later, Anas, spoke to REWIND about why he doesn’t want to show his identity, the dangers of undercover journalism in Africa, and what has become of the concoction men that killed those children.

“Most African journalists who do investigations have a series of dangers pointing at them. You just have to be yourself and think about how to survive. I came up with the beads that I wear, so people don’t see my face. I’m sure that some of my colleagues, in Nigeria or Malawi have other ways to protect themselves,” Anas told Al Jazeera.

Talking about the threats facing investigative journalists, he said: “Generally, people definitely want to point guns at you or some will try to kidnap you. And most of these things have happened; getting death threats and legal suits is normal, most of my colleagues in the continent suffer that.”

“There is nothing more frustrating than doing a story on someone and then walking on the same streets with that person. It is even more dangerous and that can easily end the life of any journalist.”

“We don’t make stories so that people can just read them and smile in their bedrooms. We make stories that have impact on the society. For me, it is a good story when the bad guy is named, shamed and put in jail … Many people have gone to jail as a result of my work and I’m proud of it.”

Anas also talked about the concoction men that he met during his Spirit Child investigation.

“A legal process was started but they were too old, so at the time that the process could finish, some of them couldn’t even make it to court. But the key thing that happened in that story is that it told the community that whoever you are, when you attempt to do some of these things, you are going behind bars.”

“For the first time, those witch doctors were arrested and put before court. That sends a strong signal to all witch doctors to be careful, that when you are dealing with the life of a child it’s a completely different matter. And we can’t sit down for these children to be killed in the way they are being killed.”

Source: Al Jazeera, June 3, 2018

Related: Spirit Child
By Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Published: January 10, 2013

Every year an unknown number of children – most of them disabled in some way – are murdered in northern Ghana because of the belief that they are in some way possessed by evil spirits set on bringing ill fortune to those around them.

The practice is the consequence of ancient traditions and customs and is shaped by poverty and ignorance in remote and often marginalised communities. But it is still infanticide and no less horrifying than the killing of children anywhere. For years NGOs and the Ghanaian authorities have tried advocacy and education in an attempt to eradicate the practice but with only marginal success. Well into the 21st century, Ghana’s so-called spirit children are still being killed because they carry the blame for the misfortunes of everyday life.

Award-winning Ghanaian investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas is determined to do something to stop this senseless slaughter. In this shocking and remarkable film for People & Power he sets out to track down and identify some of those responsible and to bring them to justice.

Thousands of children have been killed in Ghana because the communities they are born into believe they are evil spirits. When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century.

The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child. The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them.

Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.

Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child’s birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father’s inability to find work or provide money to support his dependents, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems.

In this highly patriarchal society it enables heads of family to pass the blame for their struggles onto someone else. And by branding the child a spirit from outside the family, they can disassociate themselves and feel justified in murdering their own offspring, while telling those around them that now all will be well – the evil presence is gone.

But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity. I believe there is plenty of evidence of infanticide in the history of all human societies and its continued and widespread practice makes a mockery of the democratic credentials of the countries, including mine, where this crime still takes place. Many forms of civic engagement and advocacy have been used in a bid to eradicate this practice in Ghana and other West African nations. Sadly though, the limited efficacy of such techniques is illustrated by the fact that today children are still being killed in this way.

Ready to spill blood in the name of tradition

And sometimes a strong focus on understanding and education when dealing with traditional practices can distance us from the reality of a situation; it can place us in an ivory tower where we fail to engage with the true manner in which those involved are behaving. Far from acting like a man fulfilling a sad but necessary duty, the concoction man I hired to kill my fictitious child for the purposes of this film was excited; his eyes pinned wide with zeal as he went about preparing for the task at hand.

He laughed and joked about his previous experience, telling me about how he had recently killed a 12-year-old girl by tricking her into drinking his concoction and boasting about how effective his methods are. Without knowing the context, any casual observer would surely consider his disposition nothing short of murderous.

While I understand that he was misguided – ready to spill innocent blood in the name of tradition – I also strongly believe that, no matter what the circumstances, where children are being murdered the state must step in to punish those responsible in the same way that the citizens of any developed democracy would expect it to.

That is not to say that some understanding cannot be afforded to the concoction men and the communities that continue to practice these rituals. Unlike those with the benefit of technology who can see a badly developed fetus and terminate it before birth, the mothers whose babies are killed in northern Ghana have no such options.

They may find themselves giving birth to a child only to discover that it is not normal: it will never be accepted and will always be a burden on those around it. In the absence of technology or a refuge for mother and child to escape to, the concoction man is the only solution. As a result, the parents perceive him as a saviour; the only one who can deliver them from enduring further hardship. And the concoction men in turn thrive on the standing and power this affords them in the community.

When we think of slavery or the burning of alleged witches, these crimes against humanity were only eradicated when key actors in government decided to take a stand. By declaring these practices as unacceptable and threatening those who continue to perpetrate them with prosecution, governments have brought about the abolition of centuries-old traditions in a relatively short space of time.

Permitting evil to triumph over good

From northern Ghana, where the spirit child story is set, through Burkina Faso, Benin and parts of Nigeria, countless babies are killed based on age-old cultural beliefs. But despite this, we were unable to find any evidence of previous arrests for these crimes.

During the three weeks that I worked on this story, I came across 10 men who were willing to kill a baby for spiritual reasons. They were easy to find. Yet when I asked a senior police officer why no arrests have been made, his response was: “It is a very difficult thing to do. It’s unfortunate, we have no idea why this is happening, who is behind this and why they have not been arrested.”

My intention is not to suggest that one investigation or police arrest can stop this trend. But in many ways, the practice’s continued existence is a result of the impunity enjoyed by those involved. The fact that the police have never acted in any way to prevent these children being killed is surely a strong incentive for the concoction men to continue their business as usual. Invariably, this type of laisser-faire attitude is what permits evil to triumph over good.

Democracy has no value if it is only limited to occasional ceremonies for power holders. It is worthless if the voiceless are crushed and the perpetrators of atrocities are allowed to continue living their life without suffering any consequences. It certainly cannot exist where freedom and justice, selectively applied, mean that children are killed with impunity.