The Nigerian Shame In London

by Dele Oluwole

I was having a nice time at work as some nice Nigerian indigenous tunes blast from my headphones. An uncle some time a go advised that I turned my eyes away from the monitor every 10 minutes to avoid an eye defect, I can not remember the medical name now but the symptom is blood clot in the eyes. So I turned my eyes away for another 5 seconds, looked around as usual and suddenly caught the eyes of a colleague who was directly opposite my desk. He smiled and I smiled back, he stood up, walked up to my desk, and showed to me his mobile phone that had a missed call from Nigeria +234805 …… as he smiled even before uttering a word my heart skipped hoping to hear from him that a Nigerian wanted to or had already scammed him. My fear is only natural having read and watched so much discouraging and derogatory bulletins about Nigerians in London recently.

On Monday this week during lunch I went across my office to order a pack of sandwich, as it was being prepared my eyes caught a caption on a daily newspaper that was on the table. I then sat down to flip through only to discover that a Nigerian is being tried in London for yet another scam that was up to the tune of £800,000. His name is ‘Ade’-something and in his late 40s. Among the many cars he had was Bentley, travelled to Nigerian severally with suitcases full of pound sterling, has lots of property and investment in Lagos and Abuja. He has been swindling people of their money in the group of a Jamaican woman and a British man for over 6 years. The judge who is yet to pronounce his judgement said the Nigerian will definitely be jailed and deported afterwards. We have heard of those who were jailed and deported only to return under different identities, so deportation is not a panacea.

In 2004, A Nigerian friend just came in from Denmark and walked into one of the Halifax bank branches in London to open an account. He was being pleasantly attended to by a customer service advisor who took his details and passed him over to the head office to complete the process over the phone. According to my friend the person at the other end was also polite as he took some more details and finally asked for his nationality, proudly he said ‘Nigerian’ immediately he was told to give the receiver to the Advisor who started the account opening process. The customer service advisor now said ‘sorry sir we can not open an account for you’. My friend demanded to know why and why the person he spoke with over the phone suddenly became cold when he disclosed his Nationality. I am not sure how reliable this is but I learnt that this bank has stopped opening bank accounts for Nigerians carrying the National passport.

The bad eggs among us have a way of affecting the lives of the innocents. My people will say ‘the trouble being brewed by a one ‘legged’ man will be shouldered by his two ‘legged’ brother’. I couldn’t open an account with Barclays bank in 2003 because the personal banker manhandled my passport while scrutinising it for likely defect; I got angry, collected it, and walked out of the branch. ‘Monkey no fine but him mama like am’. After all if the passport becomes roughened as he scrutinised it my immigration officer brothers for MM airport go ask for ‘entitlement’ before them allow me enter my country. ‘Bi ebiti opeku asi fi eyin fun eleyin’ if the trap refuses to catch a game it should be courageous enough to return the palm kernel bait to the owner.

Some years back we were known for football entertainment and gradually toiling the path of Brazil but today one thing synonymous to that name Nigeria is scam. Just type in ‘Scam’ and ‘Nigeria’ into Youtube search you will be amazed with what will come up.

The British postal authority, Royal Mail stopped employing Nigerians because of the BBC documentary in 2006. I watched the documentary in disbelieve as a Nigerian who was working for Royal mail and who is also from the eastern part of Nigeria opened his cavity wide and narrated to a hidden camera how Nigerian Royal mail workers sell credit cards. ‘Ole lo le to ese ole lori apata’, it takes a thief to trace another thief’s foot prints on the mountain. How did he know that Nigerians working at Royal mail sell details’ of credit cards in transit to syndicates outside? The BBC guys did a good job though as they trailed a syndicate, a Nigerian from the western Nigeria who did not realise he was been secretly filmed boasted about how he travels to America to spend stolen credit card, he even showed the undercover journalist who is also a Nigerian his Mercedes Benz CLK and house. ‘Omo ino lan ron sino’ The best intermediary to a Dragon is its child.

My Jamaican mechanic once told me that Nigerians have taken over the lead of scam from Jamaicans in London. He said gone are those days when Jamaicans were dreaded because they could swindle you of your hard earned money. The premise of his argument is the BBC news on Nigerians caught by British police helicopter unit who were dismantling Mercedes Benz for shipping to Lagos. What Nigerians are known for is fast spreading to other strata of the British society; a Zimbabwean family once refused to attend a church in the UK because the pastor is a Nigerian. I try as much as possible not to travel on the London public buses because of the way my brothers and sisters constitute nuisances either when speaking to each other or when on their mobile phones.

Back to my colleague at work o jare, this time it’s not what I was thinking. The Nigerian number flashed him several times; he wanted to know who it was and where the call was coming from. So he searched for the country codes thorough Google and discovered it’s a Nigerian number, which was why he laughed and came across to me for reconfirmation.

I breathe a sigh of relief, oh God …. not again, not in my office, and not my source of Gari.

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Olayinka July 8, 2009 - 1:23 am

Nice article. I like the owe(s) = proverbs included in the article. Bi ebiti oba pa eku, afi eyin fun eleyin. (wa ri imi pa).

T ile ba san ni, awo la nwo- Being a Nigerian is not beneficiary to me anymore, myself and my husband has started claiming to be Kenyans. Infact, my nationality is not even written in my Canadian passport because we have lost lot of opportunities by claiming our nationality. One thing I love – is being a Yoruba.

Laja January 6, 2009 - 12:32 am

Nice article

Kenflipper June 22, 2007 - 3:31 pm

How difficult it is for you to get a mail from someone you dont know and DELECT IT???………….This is so much nonsense and black listing of NIGERIA. If it was the white man benefiting from these scams it would be legal right!!! American and British embassies in Nigeria collect visa fees and deny applicants visa without any reason!! South African embassy recently followed suit!!! Isnt that SCAM! Someone please educated me. There is no better scammers than the whites, dont be fooled. Nigerian scam can be avoided only if one is not greedy.

naijaboy May 24, 2007 - 9:18 pm

i hear u my brother/sister. not that i'am suporting these scammers, but u have to be a thief to fall for these emails. because when somebody you don't no from adam tells you that there is money somewhere and all u have to do, is to send some money to collect it. you have to be thief yourself to fall for such trickeries. And as for you who wants to here more positive things about nigeria; there are more than 10,000 nigerian doctors, not to talk about another 50,000 physicist, chemist, mathematicians, proffersors, bankers, atheletes etc. in this country. not to talk about the oncs in canada, europe, asia and other parts of africa….

Anonymous May 21, 2007 - 7:18 am

The western world is fully aware of the positive things happening in nigeria and to the nigerian diaspora. Some things have to be amplified for some things to be covered. Where did the nigerians learn this things from? From the masters of the 419 game of course. The british. They helped train nigerians. Americans helped train terrorists and now the terrorists are after americans. It's simple logic my people. Back to the picture, the western media thrives on negative images of other countries, cos that's what their locals want to see. Enough of all these negative articles. I know a nigerian metallogist who was duped by some british guys in the 80s. People will always be duped and will always dupe. The western powers have duped for centuries, it's their turn to be duped. You know the proverb very well: the one that chops off another man's head with pleasure will never allow a sword around his head. That's just it. Besides, the greed that flowed in the blood of their fathers still flows in theirs, and that's why they fall victims of their own doing. It takes a greedy man to get duped.

Reply May 19, 2007 - 11:26 pm

No one is bashing Nigeria, but it cannot be denied, especially by those of us who receive weekly e-mail schemes from Nigeria asking for our help in trying to retrieve funds from some type of lottery, that Nigeria is known for its many schemes. We are not making up these things, but it is really happening to many of us! If something is a fact, than it is a fact. And until those facts change and are replaced by more positive facts, than, unfortunately, the numerous schemes that come out of Nigeria will be the focus. Of course, the recent elections, and all the negative things that happened during the elections, does not help Nigeria's image as well.

Every country is known for something positive and negative. Unfortunately, again, this seems to be a time when the world is focusing on all the negative things that are coming out of Nigeria (schemes, poverty, electricity shortages, and fraud). If anyhone is tired about the negative things that are being said about Nigeria, which I fully understand your feelings, than write a positive article about Nigeria. Give readers something positive to focus on to balance out the scale of people's negative perception of Nigeria.

Anonymous May 18, 2007 - 5:55 pm

Yeah, yeah another Naija bashing! Cant we get something else to talk about? I feel your concern but I must say I feel the Western media are just magnifying the issue of Nigerian scammers just as they magnify the issue of Blacks on welfare (for your inf. do you know there are more whites on welfare than blacks?) but you will never know becoz the media with thier hidden agenda continue to show and publicize only blacks on welfare. As for the case of 419. It is share greed on the part of the duped that make them get duped in the first place! How can I tell you I have an unclaimed amount of money and I need your account and a token amount to clear it and you believe? Where do you know me from? The internet? You see what I mean? I do sympathize with the scammed but there is a spiritual law that says what goes round comes round or chicken come to roost. White people from the time of Christopher Columbus have raped, duped and cheated natives of their land and rightful inheritance. Its no surprise to me we are witnessing this on their descendants. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirl wind. Nuff said!

Reply May 18, 2007 - 2:35 pm

Hello. I really enjoyed your article. Although I am not Nigerian, I too, feel what you are feeling. I am an African American woman who married a Nigerian man on January 4, 2007 in Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. Ever since I told my family and friends about my choice, I have had to be on the defense. It is like the mention of the word Nigeria brings distaste to many people, for Nigeria is well known for scams. I walk in the bank and I see signs about not doing any business dealings with Nigerians. My husband and stepson should join me in the states next month, and still, people tell me to "be careful" with him.

One thing I did not know is that Nigerians were known for their athletic ability. That is very good to hear!

I really never knew what mixed couples go through, but now I do. It is like I go around with my fist up on the inside always ready to defend my decision and my husband if someone says something very insensitive about him and my stepson. Although Nigerians are well known in America for their schemes, that does not mean all Nigerians are like that.

I met many Nigerian people that were humble, lovely, honest, and kind. Unfortunately the number of Nigerians that take advantage of people are increasing yearly. I get an e-mail from Nigeria telling me I have won a lottery . .and you know the rest. Recently, someone e-mailed me and asked me to help a teengage, Nigerian boy. Although she never asked me for funds directly, she sent me correspondence of the conversations she had with this supposedly teenage boy, and in those e-mails, he did ask her for funds. She responded that she was unable to help him. I wrote an article (blog), and she got my e-mail address and contacted me that way. She asked me to help him! However, my stern reply let her know that I would "never" send funds to anyone in Nigeria, or America, without personally knowing the person. How do I know his story is true–I don't? How do I know that she and this person are not working together–I don't. I was taken advantage of by a person who identified himself as a Nigerian man, and I will never put myself in that position again! If I do not know you personally, I do not loan or send you funds or do anything financial on your behalf–bottom line!! With all this deception going on, one has to be careful.

So although I am not Nigerian, I still feel the shame of Nigeria's bad reputation.

When Nigeria's economic situation is changed, then perhaps the schemes will decrease. Desperate people, although that is no excuse for manipulation, sometimes do desperate things!

Excellent article . . .I know how you feel.

Rosie May 18, 2007 - 2:24 pm

A funny take on a serious matter.


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