The Hushpuppi, Woodberry jibiti generation

UNTIL their arrest and extradition last week by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United States, Ramon Olorunwa  Abbas, also known as Ray Hushpuppi and his accomplice in cyber-heist, Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as ‘Woodberry,’  played second fiddle only to Emmanuel Nwude, former Director of the defunct Union Bank of Nigeria, known to have swung the third-largest jibiti in world banking history. 

Nwude himself was only bested by Nick Leeson and Qusay  Hussein. Between 1995 and 1998, Nwude pulled a fraud that shook the entire globe and eminently placed him in any variant of the Guinness Book of Records, this time, of world fraudsters. 

He had defrauded Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste, Sao Paulo, of the sum of $242 million.

Fraud is not strange to traditional African native lexicon. While the Yoruba derisively label it jibiti, Igbo label for it is aghugho or mpo and Hausa finds comfort in labelling it zamba. The three ethnic structures had so many mores, folklore and fables they formulated to demonise it as a road that leads to perdition and frantically pulled their children from its ruinous path. In Yoruba jibiti etymology, you scarcely could divorce the people’s deployment of anecdotes to the rescue.  Tortoise was the anecdotal image constructed to impersonate jibiti by the people. This animal, to which cunning was second nature, approximated the fraud, smartness and the negatively deployed intelligence of the Hushpuppis,  Woodberrys and Nwudes of this world.

At the end of those folklores, an eternally apt lesson was always drawn: that the jibiti kingpin would have money, build houses, sire children, live a life that refreshingly entices like a whooshing fiery vapour and literally build an enticing image in the moon but their end is always fatal and lamentable.

Just like the life of Hushpuppi, Woodberry, Nwude and their precursors who travelled on this accursed road. In his very early 30s, he was said to have hawked bread and second-hand clothing on Lagos streets. Some persons, like Hushpuppi,  can’t seem to forgive the system that impoverished their background and thus take it out on it by inflicting scars on the system. Hushpuppi was the toast of A-list celebrities with whom he reportedly had photo-ops, like semi-atheist Daddy  Fresh, Dino Melaye and even American singer-songwriter, Erykah Badu.

Depicting the spirit of flamboyance that is known to be the Siamese of sudden wealth, Hushpuppi began to live a  sumptuous lifestyle and flaunted it in a Nigerian society where sources of wealth abhor enquiry of the people and are a  taboo to be investigated by the police. Hushpuppi could not hush jetting out in private jets, rolling in Rolls Royce and roving in expensive Range Rover cars whose prices ranged from about $330,000. He was notorious on the social media by the frequency of his designer clothes, expensive wristwatches and postures with luxury cars and chartered jets.

This year 2020 would pass as the most unfavourable to Nigeria in the global blast its nationals involved in cyberheist schemes made while being burst abroad. Earlier in the year, Obinwanne Okeke of the Invictus Group CEO, popularly known as Invictus Obi, was arrested at the Dulles International Airport, on his way out of the United States. Between April 11, to 19, 2018, Okeke was said to have, through hacking into the email account of the Chief Financial Officer of Unatrac Holding Limited, which sells heavy industrial and farm equipment, fraudulently transferring funds from it and stealing an amount totalling $11 million…


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