By Jimoh Olorede
Arrest in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, extradition and subsequent arraignment in the United States, of a 37-year-old Nigerian, a social media celebrity, Raymond Abass Olorunwa, popularly known as Hushpuppi, by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in connection with cyber-enabled fraud and Business Email Compromise, BEC, schemes should be a serious corporate image concern to Nigerian leaders and all relevant stakeholders in this country.
There has been a noisy, heated, angry, and controversial dispute between leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, following the recent arrest of Hushpuppi by the FBI agent, Andrew John Innocenti. While the APC accused former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and Senator Dino Melaye among other PDP stalwarts, of a link to the suspect by making reference to a group photograph taken with Hushpuppi in Dubai during the 2019 Presidential election race, the PDP in their reply, alleged mischief, calling leaders of the ruling APC all sort of unprintable names. This altercation, to our nation, is an insult upon the existing injury done to the reputation of this country by the black sheep, Hushpuppi.
The international embarrassment caused this country by the ignoble fraudulent act of our prodigal son, Hushpuppi, calls for a sober reflection among our nationals. It is regrettable that a country that’s already perceived as ‘a nation of scammers’ by a large sphere of the international community is experiencing another heinous crime committed by a citizen with some identification, hobnobbing and social fraternity with some of our leaders.
Description of Hushpuppi’s international fraud by an Ex-envoy, Ogbole Ode, as increasing poor perception of Nigerians as scammers should make a true patriotic Nigerian leader sorrowful. Resorting to politicking by our leaders instead of addressing our international reputation and corporate image as a nation shows this country has a serious leadership problem.
Our leaders should be ashamed! They should be because the discovery of Ramond Abass’s (Hushpuppi) shady character and his subsequent arrest by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) portrays our criminal justice system as weak and compromising.
Our leaders are shamelessly bold! And this always baffles me! Prosecutors alleged Abass Hushpuppi as one of the leaders of a global network that uses computer intrusion, Business Email Compromise, BEC schemes, and money laundering capers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars. It is obvious Abass must have started his ungodly business from a local end, perhaps in Nigeria, before he graduated to a global network, and an international leader of such, for that matter.
Our leaders who are stakeholders in this country should cover their faces in shame over the weakness, porous nature of our security, and failure of our criminal justice system to have nailed the rogue fraudster at home, before graduating to the international operation, the exposure of which has now dealt a big ignoble blow on our image as a nation.
The fact that Nigerian leaders do not show any sign of national remorse over Hushpuppi’s shady character, in itself, is a message that there is a high level of moral decadence in our polity. It shows we do not see it as ‘a big deal’.
Our leaders should be patriotic by always putting their differences aside and finding a common ground, especially on issues that border on our national interest. As a matter of patriotism and national interest, I want to sincerely appeal to the senses of our leaders to stop smearing our reputation and corporate image as a nation.