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Hushpuppi: Hushed, hacked and hunted

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Ramoni Igbalode Abbas globally known as Ray Hushpuppi will now be writing a new chapter in his fast-paced life of opulence and luxurious lifestyle. This man who loves to wrap his ego in the daily oxygen of social media would be out of circulation for a long time.

To put it simply, they got him!!! He is accused of multiple internet scams, fraud, duplicity, and hacking. This playboy is a 21st-century wonder. Not known from any rich, social background. He has no known skill, competence, or credentials as a highflyer to have qualified him for the kind of opulent lifestyle he daily displays on his Instagram and other social media platforms. What he has is just uniqueness and that mogul capacity to redefine the meaning of haute couture on a lavish, fairy scale. Hushpuppi was born in Kwara to a poor family. He cut his first teeth for wealth and opulent living when, as a teenager, he sold Louboutin accessories to rich clients across Nigeria.

The idea of getting rich by any means was forged in that crucible of wealth amid pandemic poverty of his own neighbourhood. Nothing will stop that desire until he got it fulfilled albeit through the most ingenious ways. He chose Malaysia as a base and from there the sky of fortune began to give way for this youngster. Who did this rich dude offend? Well, Hushpuppi was said to have been on the radar of both FBI and United Arab Emirate elite e-Police under a covert operation code-named Fox Hunt 2 for some time.

On the D-day of operation, they were able to hunt down 12 Nigerian Yahoo-Yahoo hackers including Woodberry. Singularly, Hushpuppi was allegedly arrested because he diverted $35million Covid-19 test kit meant for Native American patients into his own Gucci wallet. How did he do it? It was alleged that he specialises in Business Email Compromise (BEC). He will send out identical emails to legitimate emails and through that digital interception, would then start monetary diversion into his account. That is, Hushpuppi is a hacker’s delight. He clones bigger businesses websites and inflicts horrendous financial ruin to most of them. He gathers his fairy-tale fortune through social media deceit, digital extortion, and the parlaying of financial information into mind-boggling riches. He is a dark genius who loves to reap where he does not sow. He has developed an acquisitive instinct for easy money that does not require brutal sweat and crushing grind. He prefers stolen money to hard work. The forensic calculation of his ill-gotten wealth put the whole haul at 1.6 billion UAE’s Dirhams which equals £353,031, 157.60 in pounds. He was able to defraud 1,926,400 victims across Europe, US and Nigeria.

However, 10th June 2020 was a day of shock and awe. It was a day the money rat never bargained for. A day of shrunken courage; a day of brutal regurgitation, a day of long knives, a day of reckoning, a day of payback and a day of disbelief, shock, pain, and groan to millions of his Snapchat and Instagram foot soldiers. Instagram traffic, the conduit he uses to exhibit his wealth, sartorial flourish, gaudy living, cars, helicopter ride and roaring celebrations came to a shuddering silence. Probably forever!!! Hushpuppi, Woodberry and Momphah (before his capture) by the EFCC are the wealth magnet, where impressionistic but captive younger Nigerians are drawn endlessly.

There are always ferocious competitions between this superrich trio who have built altars around wealth and the power of money and fame. With scandalous and almost outrageous display of ill-gotten wealth, Hushpuppi, who can be likened to a one-man bureau de exchange for mint and the crispy dollar, is always eager to court digital applause through all the content he offloads onto the social media platforms. This lovable rogue from Kwara succeeded in cultivating a niche for chutzpah, panache, class, and high taste for the good life. He could either attract or repels. Any day, anytime, anywhere, and anyplace Hushpuppi answers to the pathology that celebrates the sensation of boundless opulence. He celebrates the flesh with his money, and he is a conscript to the Biblical truth that says money answers to all things.

For years he has been rejecting all the stricture of labels we pin on him: Yahoo-Yahoo thief, Internet rogue, crook, 419, scammer, email hacker and money launderer. He laughs out loud and shrugs off all our labels. He did not need to give the world an explanation of how he amasses his wealth. All he asks us to do is to remain suspended in a fog of wonder without falling into the trap of fake news. He asks us to cut through the babel of internet/electronic noises of the source of his wealth but remain his followers as he daily uploads another symbol of envy, adoration, and revulsion. The iconic label he gives himself is to call him an influencer. Yes, an influencer for Gucci and Versace – the two most desirable fashion houses! Hushpuppi is a connoisseur of durable and solid assets. He nurtures a high passion for performance cars. A collective breakdown of his motor-madness will include the most expensive marques on the road.

Here we go Aston Martin, Bugatti, Bentley, Corvette, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz (saloon and G-Wagon), Porsche and Rolls Royce. He is an overbearing and gregarious collector of Versace, Gucci clothes, watches, loafers, sneakers, shoes, tracksuits and trainers. He has a fondness for exclusivity. He prefers a certificated Gucci hairy shoe that sells for $40,000. His cutleries and wine glasses are Gucci compliant. His bed is customised by Versace. Hushpuppi is colourful, confident, calm, calculating, conjuring, and compelling in all his social and luxurious perversion. He is the money shaman; its pillar, grove, altar where people desire to worship along with the chief priest – the Hushpuppi himself! His nightgown, bedclothes, bath towel and soap dishes are all patented either by Versace or Gucci. His suitcases, handbags, wallets are all Gucci made. He lives in one of Dubai’s most expensive apartment-hotel complexes called Palazzo Versace. He drinks the finest wines and brandies. His parties are the talk of the town. He gives uncommon gifts to friends and admirers. He is a spendaholic. Hush, like his, alter egos Naira Marley (Marlian Chief Priest), Davido (OBO), Wizkid, Olamide, and Zlatan are all worshippers on the altars of Eros (flesh), Bacchus (alcohol), and Croesus (money). They all have no shame in confessing these weaknesses. Our kids love these celebrities. They love this alternative route to questionable prosperity and high taste for the symbols of freedom from daily toil.

For real, a scammer like Hushpuppi belongs to a new fatalist class forever trapped on a treadmill of crime spinning wildly out of control. Whether we like it or not, Internet scammers or Yahoo-Yahoo boys, call it whatever you prefer, are the flesh-and-blood distillation of Nigeria’s social statistics that would embarrass any nation. Where are the guardians of our values as a nation? Where are the moral champions we are all proud of? Hushpuppi, like all others who have to take to Internet criminal expression are the victims of our long-running battle with our daily social, political, economic, security and cultural dilemma. The number of unemployed in Nigeria is so high that it would make the devil blanch. In between, we see the children of our leaders cruising Abuja roads in expensive luxury cars in racing contests. In between, we watch the acquisitive madness of a deranged politician like Dino Melaye as he mocks us and dares us to question the source of his sudden wealth. An illiterate politician that has a passion for fine cars in a sea of lack and poverty. We once watched as a Lagos-based landlord and political fixer ferry money to his Ikoyi home in a bullion van. All over Nigeria are the ill-gotten wealth of Nigeria’s criminal gentry we called politicians. We live in a nation of ethical conundrum where we value nothing beyond material success.

On any given Sunday, our General Overseers will sermonise on nice-sounding homilies but the same GOs are crowding flight paths with their own private jets. In Nigeria, the character of public accountability, honest means, integrity, contentment, and frugality have all declined markedly. This collision of values will forever produce more corrupt politicians, Hushpuppis, Oby Invictus, and Evans Enwerems, money ritualists, armed robbers, rapists, bandits, and terrorists.

In a situation where millions of Nigerians are bound in a lifetime contest with grinding poverty, wretched schools, dysfunctional families and hopelessness amidst the putrefying excesses of our politicians, more Hushpuppis will emerge in a raging desire to survive and live. Of course, I well understand that Hushpuppi may be twisted in his desire to live in a fast lane of life ephemerals, but can we exonerate the society that created this hyper spender? Hushpuppi is a potent creation from the dark dungeon of Nigeria’s evil laboratory of wealth acquisition. Hushpuppi’s instinct for gregarious accumulation of dollars is no different from our elected political looters whose trademarks indirectly shaped and sharpened Hushpuppi’s own acquisitive monstrosity.

To Hushpuppi and many of our politicians, money is their manure. They all love to pile it up until it starts stinking. And that is why like Hushpuppi our politicians are stinkingly rich! When the dam burst for Hushpuppi, stunned is just one word that described the response of Hushpuppi’s millions of followers across many continents. Daddy Freeze has come on YouTube to give a garbled explanation of his relationship with Hushpuppi. A man who relentlessly takes a potshot at most of our GOs for their excesses must have stayed clear of a man of questionable wealth like Hushpuppi in the first place. But no, he was in Dubai and he test drove one of Hushpuppi’s Porsches. Millions of Hushpuppi’s followers are pressing the unfollow button on Instagram. Celebrity friends of this dollar legend are making recantation as Hushpuppi has become a sparrow all alone on the housetop. A replacement turf war is on between Baddy Osha and Aremo Gucci on who wears the cap of a dethroned and banished Hushpuppi. War of words is circulating in the social media between Hushpuppi’s die-hard fans and cynics who believe that the dominoes of retribution must now be set in motion to punish a wicked and heartless thief whose scamming activities have sent many into bankruptcy, huge debt and early death. One final thought is this: because Judas was preoccupied with money, Satan exploited it to his destruction. That is a wisdom Hushpuppi never cared about.

tajutijani@hotmail.com


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