Published: June 22, 2019
By: Okungbowa AIWERIE and Bolaji OGUNDELE
The courtroom of the Delta State High Court, Asaba was filled to its rafters as four accused persons allegedly involved in the gruesome murder of Miss Elozino Joshualia Ogege, a 300 level student of Mass Communication at the Delta State University, Abraka filed into the court.
It was the commencement of hearing in the case against Macaulay Desmond Oghenemaro, Ojokojo Robinson Obajero, Nwosisi Benedict Uche and Enaike Onoriode accused of the killing of Elozino. The suspects were slammed with an eight charge bordering on murder, conspiracy to kidnap and kidnapping.
The mood was sober and pensive. Many in court wept quietly, cursing as they sat through proceedings. Seated among Elozino’s relatives in the court with pain etched on her face and tears rolling down her cheeks was her mother, Mrs Elizabeth Ogege, who broke down in tearful ululation shortly after court proceedings ended.
As she wailed, she demanded justice for her daughter believed to have been brutally murdered in her prime for ritual purposes.
The case has been adjourned till Tuesday, June 25, 2019, for continuation of hearing.
Elozino’s case is one in the long list of ritual killings carried out by desperate youths popularly called Yahoo Boys. And while there are indications that the momentum of Yahoo menace might be waning, the fact remains that internet fraud, popularly known as ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’, and its twin practice, ritual killing, have metamorphosed into a subculture in Delta State.
This heinous crime has found an easy abode in academic environments because most of the actors are young males whose raison d’etre is primarily to acquire illicit wealth. In 2017 and 2018, there were many reports from Delta communities of unidentified female corpses with missing vital organs.
Related to the foregoing is the pilfering of female panties by persons believed to be using or selling same for ritual purposes. In the case of female panties robberies, it was reliably learnt that each pant stolen or collected at gun-point sells for about N250,000.
There appears to be an undeniable nexus between pant robberies, internet fraud a.k.a. Yahoo-Yahoo and ritual killings in the oil rich state; a link captured in a trending song, which insinuates that pant robbers engage in the crime for money to buy automobiles and other vain frivolities. “One pata-meter makes one benzi-meter,” goes the refrain.
From Jesse and Oghara to Sapele, Abraka, Warri and Ughelli, incidents of ritual killings and internet fraud are prevalent. There are unconfirmed reports that Jesse community is the unofficial headquarters of Yahoo-Yahoo in the state. But the notoriety of Yahoo boys transcends Delta State, with reports that a street in Ghana, where many Yahoo boys go to learn the ropes and also acquire dark powers for the purpose of their illicit trade, has been named Jesse Street, no thanks to the fact that it provides residence and cover for internet fraudsters from Nigeria, especially the ones from Jesse community.
At some point, a particular area of Oghara town known as Scot had a new case of ritual murder every two weeks; a situation that sparked fears within the academic communities of Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe, Oghara and Western Delta University.
“There was a time in Oghara when moving around at night became a problem,” a student in the Mass Communications Department of Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe, who preferred anonymity, lamented as he narrated the ordeal that came with living in the town at the height of the reign of notorious Yahoo boys.
“Besides the fear they stir in people, they are a major distraction because many girls sell themselves cheap for money and so-called flexing to these boys. So instead of reading and living the life they were sent to Otefe to live, many girls spend most of their time in hotels with ‘G boys’, drinking and partying.”
“Then there is the issue of pant thieves. Although it never happened to me or any of my friends, we hear stories of how some girls have been harassed because some boys wanted to take their pants by force. I won’t dare go to class at night to read.
“For now, however, those stories are not common again. But for me, being careful is important.”
A final year student of Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, who identified himself simply as Elohor, noted that calm had returned to the university town since security agents focused attention on the town and DELSU in particular in the aftermath of the murder of Elozino.
Relative peace after crackdown
The crackdown on Yahoo boys in the university was said to have yielded the arrest of the masterminds of the murder as well as their native doctor who demanded female genitals and other vital human organs from them.
The crackdown has since been expanded to other notorious enclaves of Yahoo boys in the state, and this has been adduced as the main reason for the prevailing relative peace in the state.
Describing the mood in Abraka and the university environment, Elohor said: “It has been long since I heard stories like that in Abraka. I think most of the guys involved in it have relocated away from the school and the town.
“I believe the relative peace we now enjoy is a result of the activities of the police and officials of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). They have arrested many of them and that has really scared them.
“The feeling in Abraka now is that of relief. I have not also heard of pant robbery in a long while. The last I heard of that was some time in January when a girl wrote on the WhatsApp platform about one of her neighbours who was robbed of her pant at gunpoint.
“There’s real calm and security now. If anything like that is still happening, they must have really coded it. But I also know that victims of such experiences would not hide it from the public. So, I think that era is gone for good.”
However, there is still a section of the society which believes that everybody, including the government, has handled the situation wrongly.
An evil that won’t abate
A Warri-based public affairs analyst, Mr. Felix Ogbomah, said the criminal trend may never stop as it has found a lifeline in society’s connivance. Ogbomah, who lamented the failure of parents to step in and rebuke the vice when it first surfaced, said just like all other illicit means of making money, those involved should be expected to embrace whatever form of hurdle of resistance that organised institutions would place before them.
According to him, “kidnapping, oil theft, armed robbery and all other forms of criminal means of making money came at one point or the other. And despite all efforts to stop them, either through psychological or physical means, criminals have continued to persist because these unspeakable activities bring them returns. “Likewise this one, we will be deceiving ourselves if we think we have seen the last of it. We started wrong with it.
“This criminal way of life may never go away. I said so because I see too much of acceptance and justification for it by the society. I don’t know if you have spoken to any of these young people about this Yahoo-Yahoo thing to sound them out. You will be shocked when you hear their general view.
“This is especially so with girls who you will find out are girlfriends of those of them who are Yahoo boys. You will hear things like ‘there’s nothing criminal about it, they are just collecting back what the white people took from our forefathers.’
“It becomes most sickening when you realise that Yahoo-Yahoo is not just about campus boys and girls but even vulcanizers, carpenters and people without any form of formal or informal training. Everybody just wants to get rich.
“The parents of some of those I have seen are also a big part of this social breakdown. Can you imagine parents of a boy without any visible income source saying with so much pride that their son has bought an expensive car? No reprimand, no questions. As a matter of fact, they will gladly ask such son to buy them their own as fast as possible.
“I know of a family, I won’t mention the name because I am very close to the father, though I have since reviewed my relationship with them because I consider their treatment of indecency in their family too irresponsible to condone.
“One of their sons, the stubborn one who has been known for always tracking the wrong trail, left home all of a sudden and started bringing things home without any visible means of income. He bought a car for their mother and set up a business for her.
“It is not like it is a bad thing for a son to do things for his parents; that is what we all pray for. But knowing that what your son does is illegal and you still partake of the proceeds of the illegality is what is unconscionable to me.
“This is just an example of how failed parentage has encouraged this evil to fester, and the more dangerous reason why I think this Yahoo-Yahoo thing has come to stay.
“The society is in connivance, and that is the only tonic any crime needs to survive.”
Source: YAHOO BOYS ON THE PROWL