by Stanley Azuakola
Long before militants and Boko Haram, there was a time in this country when internet fraudsters (popularly referred to as ‘yahoo boys’) ranked among the most prominent causes for concern for authorities in Nigeria.
Generally, people (Nigerians and foreigners alike) have become wiser and also agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have become more effective in combating the threats posed by the scammers.
However, they haven’t gone away completely, as the Chief Servant of Niger State, Gov. Babaginda Aliyu recently discovered. Aliyu was shocked to discover that his email account had been hacked, and used to send messages begging for assistance from many of his contacts, proving the saying -just made up now- that “with yahoo boys there is no respect of persons.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chief Servant, Danladi Ndayebo, disclosed that the issue was brought to the governor’s attention by concerned Nigerians.
The message sent from Gov. Aliyu’s account had the subject: ‘Urgent assistance.’
“I didn’t tell you about our travel to Spain for a short vacation, but unfortunately we were robbed at the hotel where we lodged along with other folks. We didn’t bring our phones here and the hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the incident. So I have access to only e-mail.
“Please I’m going to need some sort of loan from you for us to relocate to another hotel close to the embassy and that to get us another flight ticket…Please, let me know if you can help us out. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.”
Governor Aliyu denied ever sending such a mail, and described the hackers as “unscrupulous.”
The issue of internet fraudsters is one which has continued to pique the curiosity of scholars.
In a keynote lecture at the African Literature Association Dallas, April 2012, author of ‘You’re not a country, Africa!’ Prof. Pius Adesanmi had this to say:
“… please remember that some actors in Africanist scholarship here in North America have been very active in making a case for 419 emails as an art form worthy of critical reflection. I have received at least one solicitation in the past to help evaluate submissions to a planned special issue of a scholarly journal on 419 letters as a literary genre.”
Can you beat that?