In the month of October, 2018, a young man with dreadlocks who claimed to be abroad raised an alarm about internet fraudsters doing rituals with the panties of ladies to spiritually empower them to enjoy easy windfalls from scams.’
According to him, the panties were sold at the black market from the price range of N200,000 to N350,000 depending on how much residues/body fluids they contained. Only a few people took him serious. Netizens laughed about it in the comment section of the Instagram page. A few days later, the man’s revelation started gaining traction in the media. Reports of people stealing panties from washing lines started emerging with confessions made by culprits mostly in the face of jungle justice.
In December, the panties of a popular American video vixen and model, Symba and that of her friend were reportedly stolen at the Villa Thirty Three Hotel in Lekki, Lagos State by one of the hotel cleaners. She raised the alarm on social media and immediately, the ladies got the message that the desperate hunt for their panties was real.
The internet fraudsters who are majorly young men were fingered in the diabolic act of wicked ritualism. According to reports, the implication of this is that the victim whose panties were used for rituals might fall sick, die mysteriously, run mad or be bewitched with ill-luck till her last day on earth. The situation seems worse in Delta State with gunmen allegedly robbing women of their underwear.
But how true are these stories? Hope they are not one of these periodic social media hoaxes that are click baits set by bloggers and online journalists hungry for traffic?
Nigeria’s social media space and its penchant for fake news
Nigerians have an unimpressive record of wilfully spreading fake and odd news. A section of the country once spread rumours that there was a sinister plan by the ruling All Progressives Congress to islamize Nigeria and turn it into a country like Turkey. You can also remember how rumours emanated from the South-East geo-political zone in 2017 that the Nigerian Army was using a medical exercise to inject poison/monkeypox virus into the people to depopulate the South-East against the 2019 general election.
We have also heard unfounded claims of people picking monies on the ground and turning into yam tubers or other objects which are easily stashed away but the culprits who planted it. What about the issue of ‘killer phone number or phone call’? A strange number calls your line and immediately you respond to the call, you start to vomit blood and die. Another close one that was popular in Ibadan where this reporter grew up is ‘manhood theft’. A stranger will accost you in public space to ask for direction and the next minute after your response, your manhood shrinks.
Just of late, people believe there are piggy banks (kolo) that are laced with juju. The money saved in them will gradually disappear without your knowledge. All these and many more are spread from mouth to mouth and on social media with people taking it hook line and sinker without any empirical evidence. But the moment you try to verify the report, the proponents feel uneasy due to lack of substance and begin to retrace their steps.
As the story of a lady who vomited naira notes at the Effurun market area of Uvwie local government area of Warri, Delta State after her pant was allegedly stolen at her residence few weeks ago pervaded the internet space, fear gripped female folks especially the ones who discreetly sell their bodies on the internet. Wearing panties to the house of a man you don’t trust has become a high risk. People became vigilant about the young men with unsubstantiated sources of wealth in their neighbourhoods also called the ‘Benz or Nothing Boys’ on social media due to their affinity with exotic Mercedes Benz automobiles.
Using the panties of ladies isn’t part of our line of trade – Yahoo Boys
As this reporter enjoyed the ambience of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on his way back to his home-city for the Yuletide, he thought about the panties rituals and was determined to get to the root of the issue due to the fact that most of the journalists who have worked on the stories lack optimism in their reportage.
Yahoo Boys are not ghosts, they live around us. We grew up with some of them. They share their scam escapades and proceeds at beer parlours, club houses and social gatherings in the midst of like-minds. They are very approachable as long as you are not a security operative and the principle of confidentiality is assured. I got a couple of phone numbers and started to set up interviews with them on the craze of panties being used for black magic. It was a very herculean task but funny enough the Yahoo Boys I spoke with were willing to talk. I even got referrals to other fraudsters for necessary information.
To my greatest shock, the several seemingly established ‘hustlers’ as they call themselves claimed to have heard the rumours on social media. Most of them admitted that internet fraud had taken a spiritual dimension a long time ago but the issue of panties being used at the detriment of the owner was out of place.
“Your questions are very funny; I haven’t heard such news of the pant ritual on the street (among friends). just like you, I read it online. I know boys do juju so that their magas (victims) could pay big cash on time but the reported fate of the victims is synonymous to pure blood money” a suspected scammer of South-east descent who spoke under the condition of anonymity told this reporter.
Not satisfied, the reporter was able to set up a meeting with another young man in his early thirties who is in the illicit business. He paraded one of the latest iPhones, Apple laptop, jewelleries. He spoke to this reporter with a wrap of weed on one hand, a mixture of unknown alcoholic substance on the other with mostly ladies constantly interrupting the brief interview with phone calls. After being assured of his safety a second time, he slowly started singing like a bird.
“I can boldly tell you that most of the guys out there are pure ritualists and not Yahoo Boys. They know nothing about this work. My old friend who has no email address bought a Maserati car worth N60 million. I don’t know if you know the car….he is based in South Africa. I have asked him to give me tips for work but his brain is empty. People close to him have told me that he only uses his laptop for Facebook. I suspect pure blood money as he isn’t doing drugs. He comes to Nigeria periodically maybe to renew his jazz (hoodoo). People will think such a guy is doing Yahoo but I doubt bro. That’s the problem we are dealing with” he said.
When probed further about the infusion of black magic with internet scam, he admitted that voodoo plays a huge role in the criminal industry.
“I nor fit lie you, juju dey and people dey use am wella. Most of these herbalists have a book of spells and they can make such charms to jinx white people. The problem is that most of them are fake. I have done some in the past but they never worked for me. I still believe in pure hard work and I know very successful guys in Lagos who own properties here and there doing fraud without juju” he added.
He further explained that some herbalists use human skulls recovered from burial grounds, tongues of human beings, breasts and other parts to make potions. According to his account, these materials are grinded into power to make soaps, drinks or food for the scammer and a procedure is followed to bring good luck. He accused the “Benz Boy” of indulging in that level of fraud to cater for their flamboyant lifestyles.
This reporter also spoke with another very wealthy young man, an Osun State native in his mid thirties who shuttles between Nigeria and Malaysia. He is happily married with two kids. He owns several cars, landed properties and businesses used as fronts for fraud. He abruptly denied having any knowledge of the panties ritual.
“Internet scam has been around in Nigeria for almost two decades now and the issue of panties of women being used for money never came up until recently. What is so special about the panties of ladies? I’m in touch with guys and I have never met or heard of one using the panties of ladies to attract goodwill. That’s pure blood money and my mind tells me the politicians might be involved. This is an election season and desperate politicians need spiritual powers to play dirty politics” he alleged.
This reporter came close to making a breakthrough in meeting two victims of the panties wizardry when he spoke with one partly uncooperative hustler around the Ologuneru area of Ibadan who initially insulted the reporter. On being quizzed on the issue, he mocked the journalist during the telephone interview.
“Guy you dey mad oh!, which kain question be this one na? Who tell you say I dey press?” he asked amid laughter.
When the journalist explained the objective of the investigation to him and how he had spoken with his colleagues with much progress made, he toned down his utterances.
“I have never seen any guy using the pants of ladies. Apart from what we read on Instablog (Nigeria’s popular microblog on Instagram), no one has ever informed me that it’s the new method of making cash or that someone he knows is involved. The reports are very strange to us. Most of the guys doing such are into blood money and not Yahoo Yahoo. I can assure you. Thats all I know” he said.
He later called this reporter to tell him about two ladies whose panties were reportedly used for rituals. According to the rumours he heard, the young ladies slept with the big boys for money and ended up in the hands of the ritualists. He was told the ladies started falling sick later on with their bodies shrinking and oozing a foul smell. All efforts to speak with the purported victims failed as people contacted had uneasily feelings about the reportage.
Youths now follow Ifa (West African religion and system of divination) for financial benefits
The reporter also met a 25-year old alumnus of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso. The school is famed for housing some of the most notorious fraudsters in the South-western part of the country. Segun Quadri (not real name) drives a Lexus 350 jeep; he has built his own house and has invested in fish farming. He has a start-up that sells fish feed on a large-scale. He looks so innocent and no one would ever suspect he is into to internet fraud. He also claimed ignorance about the panties voodoo.
“I don’t believe any Yahoo Boy is using the panties of any woman. It’s all fake news. Most of the stories are hard to prove. The major problem is that most people are now into money-making rituals. That is not internet fraud. There are some rituals that you will do to prosper whatever you lay your hands on. On the conclusion of the spiritual exercise, the native doctor asks you to go start any business. Even if it means selling ordinary slippers, you will become rich and famous from that cheap venture” Segun narrated as he swung his car keys in the air as if he was coordinating a group of choristers in a church.
“People in Lagos are now ‘doing Ifa’, the process is very deep and hard to explain. It’s like joining a secret cult. When you do, worshipping Ifa becomes your second religion. It doesn’t disturb the first one. It’s like joining the illuminati. You just have to admit that you now have a second god in your life” he added.
His narration reminded the reporter of one popular and super rich suspected internet fraudster named Femi at the Jericho area of Ibadan of Ibadan who was purportedly caught performing a ritual in the middle of the night at a three-way junction. According to reports, he was dressed in all-white clothes. The suspect later admitted openly that he is an Ifa worshipper who has refused to align with Christianity or Islam.
The reporter asked him if these Ifa faithful he described are engaged in rituals in the class of what Femi did and he affirmatively said no.
“You don’t have to perform such rituals except you need certain powers. These Ifa faithful are given some fetish structures they simply worship in their houses. Mostly, they are given a calabash containing other spiritual materials. You will pray on it and pour a quantity of palm oil inside of it as part of the rites involved. The palm oil is expected to dry up before the day ends. This in turn brings good luck to the worshiper” he said.
When asked about clues to identifying members of the Ifa confraternity, he spoke further;
“Some of these Ifa members only wear white dresses. Their cars are white, houses have the same colour and most of their belongings. They will tell you they have some sort of obsession with that colour but it’s not true. Most of them have forbidden food materials like fish, snail, pig, cow meat and others. Eating these has become a taboo for them. Their wealth could cease if they break the rules” he emphatically stated.
After enjoying Segun’s utmost cooperation, the reporter felt indebted and couldn’t summon courage to ask him about his personal involvement in black magic. Rumours have it that his early success might have come directly from the devil’s altar.
People are truly using the panties of women for juju – native doctor
A native doctor who also spoke on the issue under the condition of anonymity due to its sensitive nature claims the panties of female folks are actually being utilized by unscrupulous elements for rituals. According to him, it’s a very potent source of the Midas touch in life.
“The panties of women are actually being used by Yahoo Boys. The panties work for different things depending on the wish of the person in question. It’s capable of unlocking the destiny of the ritualist. He stands a good chance of being prosperous in whatever he lays his hands on be it business or internet scam. I will not lie to you, people are indeed using the underwear of women for rituals” he said.