Some clerics, chiefly the Islamic ones, are often the faces behind the masquerade when it comes to ‘Yahoo Yahoo’.
In 2019, one Alfa Jamiu Isiaka, aged 31 at the time of his arrest, was exposed as an impersonator of both Femi Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson; and Maiknati Baru, a one-time Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
‘Alfa’ is an appellation for a West African cleric or religious teacher.
Posing as the two public figures, Alfa Isiaka was accused of defrauding a South Korean national, Keun Sig Kim, to the tune of 30 million naira. He would later be jailed for 28 years.
In August 2022, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested seven internet fraudsters in Ilorin metropolis of Kwara State, among whom were two Islamic clerics, Ahmed AbdulKadir and Abdullateef Ajibola.
Last March (2022), when the Nigerian anti-graft agency swooped on conmen’s enclave and apprehended 28 ‘Yahoo Yahoo Boys’, also in Ilorin, a cleric, Toheeb Albarka, was among the suspects.
Speaking to me in the course of this report, Ustadh AbdulGaffar Abiodun confirmed that some young ‘Alfas’ are indeed ‘Yahoo Boys’. However, he recommended: “We need to empower our Islamic clerics; support them to set up legitimate businesses, and watch ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ among them reduce greatly.”
In Nigeria, many Imams and Alfas like Isiaka, AbdulKadir, Ajibola and Albarka play their role in full-time capacity – no recognised enterprise. Clerics of this ilk are not paid a salary by the Muslim community, yet they show off newly-acquired assets.
“Unscrupulous Clerics Worse Than Yahoo Boys”
Ustadh Abdulsalam Abdulahi is a Sunni cleric who runs an Integrated Food Service in Lagos; thus, he doesn’t need to wait for fraud funds to make ends meet or be successful. Ustadh Abdullahi bemoaned the corrupt tendencies of some Muslim clerics.
“No nation in the history of the world has ever attached so much importance to lawful earning as did by the early Muslims, nor has any other nation evinced such dread of unlawful earning as they did.
“Allah (The Exalted) made us understand in the Holy Qur’an chapter 11 verse 85 to 86: ‘O my people, give full measure and weight with justice. Do not defraud people of their property, nor go about spreading corruption in the land. What is left as a lawful gain by Allah is far better for you if you are truly believers. And I am not a keeper over you,’” he referenced.
Denouncing Yahoo Yahoo, Ustadh Abdullahi explained that Muslims have been warned to steer clear of deceits and should not be involved in haram (forbidden) dealings. They are expected not to engage in anything that can debase the Muslim society.
He said: “As for their so-called Alfas, they are neither Muslims nor scholars but magicians who are worse than those Yahoo guys.
“Allah says in Quran 20 verse 69, ‘…And magicians can never succeed wherever they go.’”
Prophets of ‘Yahoo Boys’ in the Church are “Modern Day Gehazis” – Apostle Immanuel
Prophets and prophetesses prepare Eto Adura (prayer scheme) for ‘Yahoo Boys’. Some invite them to their church’s anniversary celebration. There, they (internet fraudsters) splash cash on these venal church leaders and drop fat envelopes as offerings.
Apostle Imoledayo Immanuel, a clergyman at the Cherubim and Seraphim (C and S) denomination described such clerics as “modern day Gehazis”.
Gehazi, a figure found in the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible, was a servant of Prophet Elisha. Gehazi enjoyed a position of power but was ultimately corrupt and misusing his authority.
Using apostrophe, Apostle Immanuel lashed out at corruptible clerics.
He remarked: “Many of you (corrupt clerics) have departed from the presence of God for a long time because of money. You’re only after the money you will collect from these boys and the car they buy for you. Some of them will even build you a church.
“You don’t even mind if they go to hell. You’re not after their soul but after their pocket. Do you think you will also enter heaven? With the way you are going, it is not likely you will be there. What are you preaching to your members? What message are you preaching that your conscience did not disturb you?
“You know for sure that these people dupe others, lie to steal money, but because they give you your own share, you will even bring them to the altar on your anniversary day. What kind of God are you preaching to them?”
He continued: “Jesus Christ came and preached the kingdom of God to everyone and gave us a message to preach the kingdom of God, but all you do is to raise money, do special ‘eto’ for ‘Yahoo Boys’ so they can prosper.
“Some of you will even go on dry fasting for ‘Yahoo Boys’ for their success. Do you even think of your future? It’s time to repent. Stop disgracing the church of God. It’s not too late for you to stop all these wickedness. If you continue this way, it will end in regret.
“These Prophets of Baal are among those who make others weep and cry. What you sow today, you will reap tomorrow.
“How do you want people to treat your children? You want them to be duped? You want someone to dupe them and run away with their money? That is what will happen to them if you continue blessing water [sic] for Yahoo boys.”