The Internet Demons on Nigerian University Campuses
On May 27, 2020, while COVID-19 was ravaging the world, I received a call from Dr. Princess Betty. She was linked to us through Betty Abah, a longtime friend.
Betty informed me one girl was about to commit suicide because one guy was threatening to post her nudes on social media. I said tell her to report it on https://aff-flagit.com/. She did and we swung to action.
She’s a student of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti amd because she was 17 when this started, she was a minor under the Law.
She got unfortunately close to a fellow student in what she thought was a relationship. The gang of boys, from our investigations pretend to be loving, lure you into a relationship, secure your trust and then obtain your nudes with a promise that they’re accessing your body for a future beauty pageant event. After like a month, they start demanding for money, ranging from 100k, to 50k, to 25k. Once you refuse to pay, they threaten that your nudes, that you shared in trust will end up on social media “to shame you”!
We were really disgusted as usual and set our machinery in motion. We told her to play along through our own processes which they were walking into without knowing. In one of the days, we got wind of the Bank they route their “ransom payments” through. One of the fees had been “washed” through an account lacking BVN.
We kept closing in and kept the victims parents in the picture.
When we informed the IGP office, he referred the matter to the Interpol because some of the gang members were communicating through foreign numbers. From there, the matter was moved to SARS Abuja, the ASP in charge, a Lady’s first comment was “why she too de send her nude foto to Boys”. We told her “OUR BUSINESS IS NOT TO PROTECT THE OFFENDER AND BLAME THE VICTIM”. She said “okay o”. And instead of getting on this matter and dispassionately doing her job, she was stalling it. She even said she’ll invite the parents of the Boys “to come and talk”.
I knew it was time to move because the parents wouldn’t talk, they would buy their boys out of this case. We know enablers of crime when we see them and this ASP wasn’t giving us any comfortable feeling. It was clear she spited opportunity for “business” in the teenagers’ crisis.
I sent a WhatsApp message to Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, informing her we were after a a cartel of nude traders and Cyberbullies right under her jurisdiction. Within an hour, she called me. We had a long conversation and plotted a strategy of approach. I told her AFF/FLAGIT will get the Boys but she should let the authorities know we won’t listen to some rich parents telling us to back down when their children are caught. She assured us and reached out to the Chancellor, Aare Afe Babalola to notify him.
If you’ve ever listened to voice-notes, or written messages from these Predators, you’ll know how vicious they are or can be. They show no mercy! They’re telling you, “SEND THAT MONEY NOW OR WATCH ME DESTROY YOUR LIFE!”!
And if you plead , they’re telling you “WHY ARE YOU BEGGING ME? ARE YOU CRAZY? SEE, MY FINGERS ARE ON THE BUTTON. A GO FINISH YOU FOR YOUR PARENTS!”.
Now, do you know how this feels each time you’re trying to rescue a victim and closing in on her traducers and you’re reading these messages being forwarded to your App? It’s heartbreaking. We didn’t want our client to commit suicide. So as we were chasing these lowlifes, we were working on her to hold up.
This was how we joined forces with the University, and with Ekiti State Police Command Hq and on the 25th October, got the Kingpin and Ringleader, named David Ofoeyeno into custody. We arraigned him in Court on November 16, he said he was “ill”…. but his matter has been adjourned till Dec 10. He’s going to have his days in Court and we shall not be compromised either by harassment or inducements.
The Afe Babalola University has been outstanding. They have stood behind us solidly and have infact, offered to partner us officially to stamp out Gender Based Violence from their Uni. I must make particular mention of the student Affairs Officer, Mr. Babatunde Wahab who worked with us and remained unwavering for months till we got this fellows in. Aare Afe Babalola was such an inspiration. He told us he’ll never cooperate with a coverup. Same as Professor Olarinde, the Vice Chancellor. She has met with me twice and has been full of gratitude that we pulled this off from her school. She pulled the University’s entire weight behind us. Now, if you consider how many institutions would rather skirt this over because of business considerations and image protection, you’ll give kudos to ABUAD. A University that’ll not protect alleged criminals and female predators is the University to send your child to.
As we do this work, we always source resources from this platform and it’s not charitable to hide the support of others under a bushel. I thank Ciroman Miango, our volunteer who I tapped to head to SARS office, Abuja at the beginning of this all. I thank Mary Ikoku for setting up the meeting with Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
I thank the Public Complaints Unit of the Police Headquaters, led by ACP Basiran Marcus and his Technical Lead, DSP Aliyu Umar, I thank the Interpol.
I thank the SA Legal to Ekiti Attorney General, Shirley Ajayi Atane, and Precious Olofinyokun at the Erelu Bisi Fayemi Office, I thank my good friend Yinka O-Yinka who introduced Precious. I thank my colleagues at the AFF for working through these dark paths with me to rescue vulnerable Nigerians!
Let me sign off on a sobering note:
This fellow’s mother went into the fury of emotional blackmail and harassment, calling our office severally to “drop the matter against her Son”. We told her irrespective of who she is, this process will be taken to a logical conclusion, but we would not be cowed. Nonetheless, we told her we wouldn’t mind to lump her in as a complicit enabler of crime that fetches years of prison term for her untrained son. We also told her to call the mothers of the victims and tell them to “back off” since her own son is “more important than the daughters of other parents”. At the last count, her son has bullied many other girls across Nigerian Universities.
Can you see what kind of parents raise Cyberbully terrors in our society?
Written by: Akin Fadeyi