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The Nigerian shame in London

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Written by Dele Oluwole (12-08-15)

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 miscall 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 Nigeria 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 account 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 through Google and discovered it’s a Nigerian number, which was why he laughed and came across to me for reconfirmation.

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

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