Monday 25 June 2018

The Scammers

I had just alighted from the bus. I held my well-zipped bag closely to my side and walked down the road path. The garage was always busy at night. Traders sold and people walked on the streets like something chased them. If you intend to walk in a slow way, you will be shoved out of the way.

I decided to avoid the stress of walking too fast or falling a trader’s goods by mistake. I took the other path where banks, restaurants and bukas were situated.

I had not walked long when I heard someone answering a call from behind. The voice was very close but I didn’t pay heed to it. This is Lagos and the large number of people that scurry their way on a single road would make of course make them close to each other.

I continued moving till I heard a man greet me in Yoruba. He walked beside and I turned to my left, to reply his greetings.

(The conversations were made in Yoruba but I translated them to English).

“Is this Ikorodu?” He asked.

“Yes”. I replied.

“Okay…because I’ve been trying to ask people since I got here but no one is willing to listen to me. They are just running from me, thinking that I might want to steal their money”.

“Oh,” I exclaimed, “You’re in Ikorodu”.

“Thanks. Do you know where event centre is situated?”

“Ah I’m sorry, I do not know that”. I replied.

Just then did another man appear behind me, asking the man again where he was heading to.

“It is down the road. Just keep moving down”. He said.

The man thanked him and walked away, striving to find his path.

“That guy is a mumu oo. You wouldn’t believe that he is going to collect the 1.5 million naira that he won. There’s a promo happening around that place and I guess he won. He’s new here and he doesn’t even know his way around. He might be stupid enough to continue asking from people at the front. If the agberos get hold of him, they will snatch the money”. He said.

“Uhuh?” I remarked, having pity on the novice who had no knowledge of his way around.
“Let’s hurry and stop him. That way, we’ll warn him against losing his money”. The man said.

I nodded and hurried after him, trying to stop the novice man from losing his money.

“Hey”. I called him. We went to an area at the back of an MTN stand.

The novice man was still acting innocenti innocenti, placing his hands around his chest, his red eyes raising questions.

The other man began. “We called you because we know what you’re going to collect at event centre, and we do not want the agberos to snatch it from you. How much can you give us on your own so that we’ll keep our mouth sealed”.

There I was, gasping. We never talked about collecting any share. What was he then saying?
“Please,” The man pleaded innocently, “I have spent 450 naira to come here. I can give you guys one-one thousand”. He said.

That was it! I raised my hands in the air and left the place. Why would I collect someone’s money?
I continued walking down the road path, having self-pity on the innocent man.

“People are heartless oo. Why would you rob an innocent man of his money?” I thought.

It was then I saw this in a different perspective. What if I was actually the prey? What if they were trying to swindle me?

I remembered the story I read on Quora that morning. It was narrated by a woman who lived in USA. It was at the end of it all that she knew that the man was trying to probably kidnap her.

Was it their plan? Were they trying to rob or swindle me? That man looked so innocent… I thought.
When I arrived home, I narrated the incident to my family members. “Oh, yes. That’s how they do…ignore the innocent look oo…thank God you left the place immediately…” They said.

My dad narrated how one of his friends got swindled by a former classmate. They talked about printing money and made him believe that it was true. His friend sold all his had till all he possessed was the rubber slippers he wore. He trusted his old classmate with the belief that he was a righteous deeper life Christian who couldn’t dupe him. It all turned out to be a lie and he realized that when it was too late.

They entered a bus where the passengers related several experiences with swindlers. They said that the swindlers used ritual to deceive people.

My dad’s friend exclaimed. “Let’s not deceive ourselves. We are actually the cause of it all. Why? Because we’re greedy. If we weren’t, we would not fall into their trap”.

Many Lagosians have fallen into the trap of scammers. Let’s try to avoid greediness and to be wary of people who pretend to be innocent. Have a nice day.

Maryam AbdulWahab, My Life in Lagos.

Stay tuned for the next series The Pokenosers.