Following the brouhaha that accompanied last week’s disclosure on the global information network about some Nigerians caught on alleged criminal conducts, TERRIFIC HEADLINES has dug further into these most unfortunate incidents involving our brothers and sisters who are either resident abroad, or are abroad for short periods. We discovered in the Boss Newspapers published by Dele Momodu the names of 77 Nigerians alleged to have exhibited unpleasant conducts in the United States. There is apparently not a Nigerian soul who would read the account that would not be disturbed. Let us fast-wind to the pre-oil boom era. Our society was particularly noted for high morals, values and virtues. The oil boom era brought along with it an admixture of positives and negatives. It featured wanton profligacy and demonstration of affluence, a development that led to a feverish struggle for acquisition of wealth at all costs by the old and the young, male and female. Here lies the very salient factor that produced armed robbers in a nation that placed great premium on family values, morality and good name.
THOSE WHO COULD COLLECTIVELY SALVAGE THE SITUATION: The social development campaign being championed by TERRIFIC HEADLINES identifies five (5) broad targets. These are Government that must create the enabling environment, parents who have the greatest responsibility in moulding our youths, organizations with parental responsibilities, Civil Society Organizations and the civil society itself. This space is yielded to the admonition of one of the very important influencers who has over the years moved phenomenally to return sanity to the scene. It is a counsel from a great man of God, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide. In his church’s Daily Devotional titled: ‘Open Heavens’, Pastor Adeboye’s piece captioned: ‘TRICKS OF THE DEVIL’ states that ‘’We are in a world where instant riches, riotous living, exhibition of immorality and the pursuit of extreme pleasure have become attractive to people. Now, wealth and fame derived from participation in vices (such as corruption, gambling and drug-trafficking) are being celebrated, even among some so-called Christians.
LOST ATTRIBUTES: Some attributes that used to be highly valued in society, such as integrity, diligence, moral principle and godliness, have become things of the past and are now looked down on. The younger generation seems to have a warped idea of what success really means. Consequently, predators are using the weapon of deception to entice vulnerable individuals into evil deeds, such as sexual gratification in exchange for favours, drug-related businesses, human trafficking, organised crime, internet fraud, and many others, promising quick money, political appointments, opportunities, business rapid job promotions etc. Is anyone promising you something in exchange for “nothing”? Ensure that you do not fall for any deceptive proposal of the devil. ‘’The rich and powerful do not give away their favours for free. ‘’They always ask for something in return, and their demand is usually much greater than their initial investment. If care is not taken, you may lose your own soul in the process. ‘’Don’t be carried away by any “delicious” offer, because it is really nothing but deceitful food laden with poison. You’ve been warned!’’ He asserted that: ‘’This tactic often takes the form of a sweet and generous offer used in sugar-coating a poisonous pill.’’
The man of God continues: ‘’Such offers can come as a gift, an appointment or a promise of greatness. ‘’The packaging of such offers is always tasteful, attractive and elegant, but inside lies destruction. The devil tried to play this trick on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in today’s Bible reading. ‘’In many cases, no matter how much you try, you may not see anything wrong with the whole arrangement at the initial stage, but at the end of the day, you will find yourself entrapped to do the bidding of your “benefactor” against your wish. The rich and powerful of this world deploy this trick in getting what they want. They use the luxuries they can provide to entrap the less wealthy and vulnerable, who may feel obligated to do their bidding. Many victims of this scam have been disappointed, enslaved and some have even lost their lives.
I enjoin youths to be warned that those who are addicted to pleasure, who always have their eyes roving and seeking for a luxurious lifestyle, will easily be sucked in and entrapped by these wicked predators. The language of Satan and his agents is “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them” (Luke 4:6). I pray that you will not be deceived or fall victim of such mean and wicked deceivers in the mighty Name of Jesus.’’
TERRIFIC HEADLINES: The major kernel of the counsel is for people to conduct themselves in an orderly manner and refrain from dirty and sharp practices that are usually recorded at the ports/border posts. The advice is timely, given the very widespread problems associated with illegal migration as a result of economic dislocations and conflicts recorded mostly in the Third World’’ If you nurse the ambition of travelling abroad and you fall into the category of those identified here, you are advised to please bury your plans immediately.
MUST YOU TRAVEL ABROAD?: Nigerians are naturally regarded as resilient, innovative and adventurous people as a result of their love for travelling wide and far. Every human activity requires planning. Anyone who fails to plan has planned to fail. Are you planning to travel abroad as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Is there any important justification for your intention to secure an entry visa into foreign countries? Are you adequately prepared? Do you have the funds and the means to travel? A wise personality would always plan before embarking on any venture. A very pertinent consideration is: What are the reasons for planning that trip? Does an intending visa applicant understand all the necessary facts and details guiding foreign travels or migration? Do you have enough funds or access to enough funds to sustain you while on the visit abroad? Intending travellers must be able to know the correct purpose of their intended visits and weigh all the options pertaining to the trip that are open at the time of taking decision.
SCALE OF PREFERENCE & REGULATIONS: All these must be placed on the scale of preference to avoid unpleasant and embarrassing difficulties. Intending travellers must be able to know the correct purpose of their intended visits and weigh all the options pertaining to the trip that are open at the time of taking any decision. Peoples of the world travel from one location to another location for various reasons. Movements across borders have increased over the years and the whole world has been turned into one huge global village, with increased interaction and frequency of visits across the borders. Largely, people regard preparations for travels across the borders as a casual issue. This should not be so, as smooth human movements require clear understanding of matters pertaining to border movements and controls.
With the above guidelines, it is necessary for an intending traveller abroad to understand the rules and regulations guiding issuance of entry visas into their destinations before making applications. It is also important for applicants to know practically all the important facts about the countries to be visited as tourists, including their culture, immigration laws, weather conditions, opportunities available, sustenance/maintenance costs, and other pertinent issues to determine whether to travel or not. It is also necessary to know the purpose for patronising the commercial ports through which goods and commodities are either imported or exported. Goods range from personal effects to commercial products that have to be cleared in accordance with extant regulations that may, however, change periodically.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS: Whatever may be your reasons for going abroad, it is important for travellers to remember that they MUST NOT tarnish the image of Nigeria and Nigerians by conducting themselves unlawfully. Nigerians, like their counterparts in other nations must take cognisance of the fact that all foreign nations have their rules and regulations that must be obeyed by both residents and visitors. In most cases, the regulations are stringent and must be respected and obeyed.
GREATER INVOLVEMENT OF PARENTS: Given the rot discovered, the pertinent question remains: ‘’Where are the parents? A popular saying goes: ‘’If you fail to plan, then you must have planned to fail.’’ It is important to place all options open to a traveller on the scale of preference and the financial capability of the intending traveller. It would sound very odd for anybody to decide to travel abroad and start roaming the streets without a mission. Common reasons for visits abroad are for leisure, business, studies, and medical. The downturn of the economy of Nigeria is the root cause of the exodus of Nigerians in large numbers outside the country. This phenomenon started in the mid 1980s with sound professionals looking for better prospects in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Soon, people started moving out on exploratory missions to other nations including countries of the Far East. It is difficult to visit any part of the world and not find a Nigeria making a living in that society.
CLASS DISTINCTION: The love for travelling for Nigeria could also be described as an obsession provoked by class distinction, values and customs. Very brilliant minds and professionals have found solace in foreign lands contributing to the development of the economies of foreign nations. Many have returned; but it is unlikely that several Nigerians in the Diaspora will never return home because they are now firmly-footed in those societies. Today millions of ethnic Nigerians live abroad, and the largest communities can be found in the United Kingdom with about 3,000,000 people and the United States with more than 1,000,000 Nigerians), other countries that followed closely are South Africa, Gambia, and Canada respectively. Let it be fully realized that the task of monitoring youths and societal development is the responsibility of everybody. It is important to utilize the family units, particularly women around whom family pivots revolve substantially, in the processes of halting, or at least minimize the dangerous trend of illegal migration and associated ills, social vices and global security concerns.
CURTAILING ADVANCE FEE FRAUD (419) An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence tricks. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. Wikipedia quotes several sources and explains that: ‘’If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim or simply disappears. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that, “An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return. While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well. In 2006, 61% of internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom, and 6% to Nigeria . Other nations known to have a high incidence of advance-fee fraud include: Ivory Coast, Togo, South Africa, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Jamaica. The number “419” refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud, the charges and penalties for offenders.
Scam Letters/419 Cases Involving the Bank: The following is recorded on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria: An accomplice, a foreigner who hoped to make a profit of US$ 12.5million just for providing his account for the remittance of US$ 25 million was duped. He went to court: The Plaintiffs, Henry Keller and his company H.K. Enterprises Inc. alleged that sometime in 1994 they entered into an agreement with some con men posing as officials of the CBN and Nigerian Government to provide access to their bank accounts in order to transfer the sum of $25.5 million dollar that was allegedly being held by the CBN as proceeds of an already completed inflated government contract. The funds were supposed to be transferred to Keller upon a spurious contract requesting Keller to supply medical equipment. After arranging for a local escrow account in Ohio and receiving notice from several of the Defendants, including an individual who claimed to be Ogwuma, the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, that payment into the account had been approved, the money was not transferred into the account. Instead, “Ogwuma” and the other Defendants demanded and received from Keller, payment of $12,750 for wire transfer and handling charges, and $16,200 as stamp duty fees and notarization fees. It was finally agreed that Keller should travel to London, England to pick up the $25.5 million dollars personally. However, the courier whom Keller was supposed to meet did not show up. It was then that Keller realized that he had been scammed. The Plaintiff sued the Defendants, CBN, Ogwuma, Rasheed and Sadiq (i.e. the Gov. Director, Foreign Operations Department & Director, Currency Operations) alleging fraud and conspiracy to defraud him of about $40,000 and over $14 million in lost profit which represented the medical equipment worth over $6.6 million dollars and licensing fee of about $7.65 million dollars. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the Plaintiffs were involved in a ‘419’ scam with fictitious person. The Defendants also pleaded the doctrine of sovereign immunity, lack of jurisdiction and illegal contract on ground that the Plaintiffs entered into an agreement to defraud the Nigerian Government to the tune of USD $25.5 million dollars. The court, in its judgment, granted the Defendants’ motion (CBN) and dismissed the case.
PROTECT NIGERIA’S ECONOMY & INTERESTS: The statistics quoted above reveals very conclusively that criminality is a global phenomenon and the volume is higher in Western nations than cases recorded in Africa. Sometimes, some actions appear bizarre to me, in particular, the Advance Fee Fraud matters. Let us imagine a scenario. A personality named: ‘’MR. A’’ in Nigeria writes to another personality named ‘’Ms. B’’ in the United States or United Kingdom requesting for assistance to illegally siphon billions of naira out of the country. ‘’Ms B’’ is happy and willing to assist in the illicit conduct that injures the economy of Nigeria. ‘’Ms B’’ makes available the sum of 500 million naira to facilitate the illegal act. She is eventually dupe and she reports to INTERPOL and security agencies in Nigeria. Security agencies investigate the matter and try as much as possible to assist ‘’Ms B’’ to recover the amount lost to scammers.
A LAYMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: I have always felt it is proper for security agencies and the courts to examine a reported case. However, I believe it is improper to assist a foreigner who is scammed to retrieve his or her funds and gleefully depart Nigeria to his/her country. In such situations, the foreigner who loses valuable amounts to scammers should be apprehended on arrival in Nigeria, thoroughly quizzed and arraigned before Nigeria’s law courts.
Nigeria’s Criminal Code: A person, who by false pretence, and with the intent to defraud any other person, invites or otherwise induces that person or any other person to visit Nigeria for any purpose connected with the commission of an offence under this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment. Additionally, the position of the Law is that ignorance can never be an excuse. The foreigner, who is an accessory or accomplice must be charged alongside his/her foreign partner. In the first instance, anybody who has an intention to commit fraud must answer to the charges, given the fact that his/her parents in their countries of origin never saved or maintained accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The amount involved should also be forfeited to the Nigerian government.
ATTACKING THE SYNDROME: ROLE MODELLING, PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT & RECOGNITIONS — TERRIFIC HEADLINES is currently running an activity on FAMILIES VALUES & VIRTUES, A rundown of the campaign indicates that issues being addressed primarily include prevention of moral, criminal and social vices; as well as attacking these vices through a coordinated multi-pronged social media campaign. It is being implemented to effect attitudinal changes across all strata of the society, in order to promote positive family values and the attainment of desirable goals that are set out in the country’s national plans. The organizers of the activity have explained that the programme is distinctly different from the usual awards ceremonies, as it focuses on the need for an urgent intervention in family values and virtues, at a time that the whole world faces multi-dimensional challenges, including security breaches, criminal and social vices that are threatening peaceful coexistence and values that were handed down by progenitors.
DISTINCTIVENESS: The event is distinctively different from the usual award ceremonies because it runs as a public enlightenment crusade for 365 days in one year; while the award is an integral part of the campaign that runs for only ONE NIGHT. ’When people talk about successful societies, they forget that there are some critical drivers of achievement that were embraced by these societies before recording considerable successes which they enjoy today. It is trite that visionary and purposeful leadership engenders the evolution of a near-perfect society where virtually everything works. We, therefore, have never relented in informing the target audience that our crusade is being prosecuted to effect attitudinal changes on the part of our target audience. We are utilizing several TERRIFIC is primarily targeted at all segments of the society for radical changes through moderation of attitudes and reduction, if not eradication of social and criminal vices that have grown to be borderless concerns due to the fact that no part of the world is immune to these regrettable occurrences’’.
MORAL RECTITUDE – PREVENTIVE ABOVE REACTIVE STRATEGIES: The Key points:
The HEADLINES & SOCIAL MEDIA channels for this multi-pronged campaign. And the programme that runs for 365 days
TARGET AUDIENCE: BEYOND THE AWARDS: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: For over one year, we have taken it as part of our social responsibility the task of public enlightenment on proactive measures that could be embraced to reform Nigeria through family values. We have worked conscientiously, knowing that there is an urgent and huge need to reform our society through the utilization of family units. Our fundamental assignment has been to contribute to ongoing efforts at construction a greater Nigeria, and in due course the whole of Africa. This concept of FAMILY VALUES & VALUES is very rational and its likely positive effects very obvious. The following constitute the target audience: