Frankly Speaking With Jola Sotubo Like it or not, Nigerians DO have a global reputation for crime [VIDEO]

All over the world, Nigerians are associated with crime, is it a fair conclusion? No. Are all of us thieves and fraudsters and drug peddlers? No. But is this how a large bulk of the world sees us? Yes.

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President Muhammadu Buhari, during a recent interview with the UK Telegraph, said that Nigerians had a reputation for crime abroad and this usually made it difficult for them to be granted asylum in foreign countries.

Since the interview was published, Buhari has been severely criticized by many Nigerians who believe that the president’s comment was inappropriate.

However, what many of these critics, foremost of which is Twitter Senator and hypocrite extraordinaire, Ben Murray-Bruce, fail to recognize is that the president was only describing the true state of affairs.

All over the world, Nigerians are associated with crime, is it a fair conclusion? No. Are all of us thieves and fraudsters and drug peddlers? No. But is this how a large bulk of the world sees us? Yes.

In Italy, there’s a criminal network of Nigerians which has been dubbed “The Nigerian Mafia” due to its partnership with local gangs.

The deadly alliance, which ‘has led to a boom in human trafficking and the drugs trade’, was described in an article written by Chiara Caprio for The Independent UK in 2011.

“…Nigerian gangs are now increasing their power in the country where most of these trafficked women end up being forced into prostitution: Italy,” he wrote.

In another article on Nigerian gangsters in Italy written on the Los Angeles Times in 2009, Sebastian Rotella explains how “Nigerians have graduated from their previous role as smuggling "mules" and pay the [local] Camorra [gang] for a cut of street trafficking action.”

“The Camorra worked well with the Nigerians at first," said Antonio Laudati, a top Justice Ministry official who led a major prosecution of the Nigerian mafia last year. "They were low-cost labor. They were well-received because they were cheap and very loyal. But then the Nigerians started to rise to a new level,” the article continues.

The atrocities committed by Nigerians abroad are however not limited to Italy. A Google search of the term “Nigerian Mafia” brought up suggestions of the group’s branches in Japan and India among other locations.

 

The Times of India has a special section where it discusses Nigerian criminals and regular updates on crimes committed by Nigerians in the country.

An article by the Tokyo Reporter explains how the “Nigerian Mafia” is continuing to make easy money in the Kabukicho area of the Japanese capital.

According to the report, a club known for criminal activities in the area belongs to a Nigerian who is known to have constructed a palatial home in his native country worth 150 million yen.

The link to the Tokyo Reporter article was posted on Reddit and the thread which followed featured a series of comments on how people had been duped or almost been duped by other Nigerians.

Nigerians also have criminal networks in Malaysia, which has become the new "Yahoo boy" headquarters, Indonesia, where Nigerians are frequently executed for drug trafficking, and Dubai, where a penchant for prostitution and fraud led the government to place an age limitation on the issuance of visas to Nigerians.

There’s also a Nigerian crime network in the United States of America according to an article written by David Simcox on the Social Contract Journal.

Their illegal activities include Immigration and Citizenship Fraud, Identification Fraud, Bank and Credit Card Fraud, Check forgery, Welfare and Food Stamp Fraud, Student Loan Fraud, Insurance Fraud and Heroin Trafficking among others.

A look around retailing sites on the internet such as Craigslist and EBay show that some sellers specifically state that their merchandise is not for sale to Nigerians.

Articles about Nigerians on foreign websites get snide comments about the popular emails sent by a “Nigerian prince”, a popular 419 front.

Whether we like it or not, the impression most foreigners have of Nigerians is poor. We don’t help the matter much because when they visit, they are treated to our unashamedly corrupt police officers and other faulty systems.

Our politicians go to their countries to spend amounts of cash so large that it would be ludicrous to imagine that they were legally earned.

The one thing Senator Murray-Bruce and his bandwagon of critics failed to mention is that President Buhari didn’t stop at mentioning Nigerians’ criminal reputation, he also said “We have an image problem abroad and we are on our way to salvage that.”

The truth is bitter, but the fact that Nigerians are not very well liked or respected around the world is a pill we must swallow.

All decent, law-abiding and hardworking Nigerians around the world must then come together and find a way to ensure that we project an image that will overshadow the very strong one that these criminal networks have.

The Nigerian government must also ensure that it begins to put structures in place to ensure that its people are not driven to crime by desperation and hopelessness.

All in all, the key to solving this problem is not denial but acceptance that it exists so that solutions might be created, and speedily too.

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Watch video report on Nigerian Mafia in Italy below:

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