Not too long ago, 39-year-old Mrs Maryam Abubakar was just an obscure woman living like millions of other housewives in Nigeria with her husband and children trying to eke out a living in order to support her family. However, little did her neighbours living with her in Zaria, Kaduna State, know that she actually harboured a very dark secret: The woman they accepted as one of them was, in fact, working with enemies that had made their lives difficult – bandits and kidnappers.
After being arrested by the police, Maryam explained that she goes almost on a daily basis with huge sums of money to purchase food items, drugs and other supplies the terrorists needed because of their large numbers. She disclosed that she decided to join the group after she started dating one of the bandits, even though she is a married woman, because her husband was not taking care of her and her children. She also said that she knew her boyfriend was a bandit and kidnapper, but that she was enjoying the sexual relationship and luxury he showered on her.
“Bandits paid between N30, 000 and N50, 000 for a round of sex…I knew they were into kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery, but I decided to date one of them despite my married status because my husband was not taking care of me as his wife; but this my boyfriend takes care of me and gives me lots of money.
“One day, one of the bandits said I should introduce more girls to them; so I brought two girls and they were given N50, 000 per night. I felt my 15-year-old and 17-year-old daughters could also benefit so I introduced them to the bandits, and they were given lots of money. Some of the burdens I have, like feeding them and clothing them, are reduced on me.” The above is not the statement of a hardened criminal but confessions of a married woman.
Giving further insight into how low morals have fallen in the society, the woman disclosed that she was introduced to men of the underworld by no other person than her brother. Her words: “I was introduced into the kidnapping business by one of my brothers who introduced me to one of his friends who later became my boyfriend. I knew they were into kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.
I decided to date him because my husband was not taking care of me as his wife, but my boyfriend was doing that and gave me lots of money.” Speaking further, she showed how financial rewards are strong inducements in making one willingly break the laws of the land; not only by associating with known criminal elements but even going out of her way to help them in carrying out their illicit activities.
“The name of my kidnapper-boyfriend is Isa Ibrahim, and my younger brother too is a kidnapper. So I used to visit them in the forest. When they saw that I love my boyfriend and that I was very loyal to the group, they started sending me to do their shopping because they are afraid that the police and soldiers will arrest them. “I used to carry plenty of money to the market and even go to the chemist to buy them drugs whenever they are sick or have injuries.
“Whenever I want to go to the market, I will take more than five commercial motorcycles after coming out from the bush to different places, because I don’t want people to suspect me. And after I finish shopping, I do the same until I find my way back to the forest.” And in sync with the adage that there is no honour among thieves as theirs is a “dog eat dog world,” Maryam Abubakar goes on to say: “Sometimes, I even arrange for them to kidnap some of the girls I bring for them as sex slaves and when their family members pay the ransom, they give me my own share.”
Maryam Abubakar’s confession clearly shows the huge problem the nation faces both in terms of security of life and property as well as general welfare Nigerian citizens. While many will quickly leap to condemn her, wondering how a mother can introduce her own children to prostitution, we also should not lose sight of the fact that the 39-year-old woman is an epitome of how the crave to make money has made millions of us ready to go to any length to make the money that will transform our lives.
Almost every day we read stories of ritualists, kidnappers, bandits and nonstate actors challenging the authority of the state as they strive to leap from ‘managing’ to being wealthy within a twinkle of an eye. Whereas the politicians and civil servants are busy dipping their hands into the cookie jar of our commonwealth, those in the private sector are also finding ways of stealing from their employers in order to buy new cars, high-end phones or what have you! And those that are not in this category, either because they did not go to school so could not acquire the necessary qualification or they did but still failed to find jobs, crossing the line into crime is the only option available to them. But whichever category one belongs, at the end of the day millions of Nigerians are given the short-end of the stick due to the fact that hospitals, roads and other amenities are not provided because the money has been embezzled or they become victims of the activities of kidnappers, bandits, insurgents or other nonstate actors.
Besides, since large sums of money are involved, it will always be difficult to get a grip on it because the truth is – who doesn’t like good living? Who doesn’t want to live in a decent house, drive a fancy car, be able to send his children to decent schools; eat good food and, generally, enjoy the good things of life? However, the major difference is that the majority of citizens, despite not being able to key into the above, will still manage themselves and stay on the right side of the law, while the few who can’t will cross the line into ‘bad land’ and damn the consequences just like Mrs Maryam Abubakar did.
By the way, Maryam also highlighted the difficulty our security outfits are facing in trying to combat insecurity in the land. “Apart from running errands for them, I also carry out surveillance and tell them who to kidnap to make money.” How many people will see an innocent looking housewife like her and suspect that she isn’t actually as innocent as she looks but actually works hands-in-gloves with bandits and kidnappers! This raises the million naira question: how many more Nigerians are actually Mrs Maryam Abubakar in disguise?