Hushpuppimania: The Tragedy of a Bad Influencer

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Hushpuppimania: The Tragedy of a Bad Influencer
Nwolu Obiajulu

Rarely do you meet a Nigerian youth who is active on social media who does not know and admire Raymond Igbalode Abbas popularly known as Hushpuppi. The socialite rose to limelight sometime in 2017 when he spent over 11 million naira in a single shopping spree.

Hushpuppi is not one who is shy to flaunt his wealth and hush whoever he believes is less influential.

However, news broke out on June 10, of how Hushpuppi and eleven members of his gang were arrested by what was believed to be Interpol in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was arrested alongside popular social media figure Olalekan Jacob Ponle, widely known as Woodberry. Hushpuppi and Woodberry are notorious personalities who pride in their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle for the camera.

Their arrest did not come as surprise to many. Though Hushpuppi is not an official Gucci brand ambassador, he rocked the brand at all time and would shade anyone he feels wears phony designers. Nigerian musicians Phyno and Timaya were moved to sing a song in response to Hushpuppi’s constant shading of celebrities who he believed wear fake Gucci and other famous brands. The duo called him out for his lifestyle despite not having known source of wealth.

The 38-year-old branded himself professional beggar, more like Cubana chief priest calls himself celebrity bar man. Whether being a bar man pays in millions is yet to be answered.

Dubai Police Media office in a video released on twitter threw more light into the circumstances surrounding his arrest. The Arab nation’s security operatives swooped on the gang in a coordinated six raid operation codenamed ‘Fox hunt 2’. Police say the crew were responsible for Dh1.6 billion (about N169 billion) fraud involving over 1.9 million victims. Items worth N15.845 billion (Dh 150 million) were equally seized.

Also recovered were, 13 luxury cars worth Dh25 million (N2.640 billion), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives and 800,000 emails of potential victims. Their arrest took four months of security surveillance into their activities during which a searchlight was beamed on their social media activities by highly trained personnel.

The Dubai police accused Hushpuppi and his gang of specializing at hacking corporate emails. They would create fake pages for existing websites in order to redirect victims’ payments into their own accounts. Authorities say Hushpuppi and his crew would send out letters from email addressed almost identical to those of legitimate companies targeting customers of these companies with the purpose of diverting payments to themselves.

Now that the puppy has been hushed and the mystery unraveled, celebrities who had constantly defended him and his lifestyle have been in denial of their support for the gang. Now that the chips are down, everyone knows that the wealth which the gang have been throwing at the faces of Nigerian youths, were ill gotten through crime. Many have been left disappointed by the exploits of their idol. Other members of his crew who are yet to be nabbed have gone into hiding, apologists who bash anyone who questions his source of income have been dumbfounded.

Hushpuppi’s case is made even worse that his trial is happening outside the shores of Nigeria where he would have little opportunity to bribe his way out of jail. His woes are compounded by reports of bulk of his victims being citizens of United States and reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation being interested in extraditing the crew to the US. Back home in Nigeria, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu had denied that the commission was involved in his arrest but has since released a statement claiming Hushpuppi has a case to answer with the anti-craft agency.

The ordeals of Hushpuppi are reminiscent of another Nigerian socialite, Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha who was arrested in 2019 over fraud amounting to about N32.9bn. He was arrested by operatives of the EFCC on counts bothering on fraud, money laundering and running a foreign exchange business without the authorization of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He spent months in custody before his unceremonious release without proper trial.

Hushpuppi on the other hand might not be as lucky. The Dubai police might not be as lenient as their counterpart in Nigeria. The evidence believed to have been gathered complicates his case and it might just be a matter of how long rather than if he will spend time behind bars.

Given his love for Gucci, it might be appropriate that he gets Gucci ropes while being held. Now that the masquerade has been unmasked, young people should learn to delight in their legitimate work and strive to work their way up. The easy way might be quicker to attain glamorous lifestyle but as the puppy has shown, the radar might slide to any direction at any time.

It is pertinent that youths learn that what glitters might not really be gold. Social media is colourful and delightful but one should be able to separate reality from fiction. It doesn’t always look as it seems. Nigeria as a nation has had her image tainted in foreign countries by unscrupulous elements. It is high time government intensifies effort at engaging the teeming workforce which it is blessed. Some young people take to crime as solution to unemployment to escape poverty. That does not however, justify crime by any means.

The youth should focus on acquiring skills would help them thrive in an ever competitive labour market. Consistency is key, patience is a virtue and crime is never a solution. If the already bashed image of the nation must be redeemed, the actions of a few bad elements should be condemned to dissuade others from towing same path.

 

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silverboy@giiwaaaOkechukwu Ijere Recent comment authors
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Okechukwu Ijere
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Okechukwu Ijere

Nice piece man.👍

@giiwaaa
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Everyday for the thief and just I say just one day for the owner

silverboy
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Human especially nigerian una be big snitch now y’all switched up on this same dude most of y’all ca… https://t.co/4XwriE0J01