I met Gift Udo (real name) on 2go and we’d been chatting for over a month. He seemed like a normal guy and I didn’t suspect anything fishy at the time. We got along and I got comfortable with him. Although I did not entirely trust him all at once, I was open to the idea of getting to know him better and probably develop a good friendship with him. I’m a nice guy, and oftentimes, my niceness makes me only think the best about people. (Not anymore though.)
So, Gift eventually asked to see me and I felt it was okay since we’d been talking for over a month. He gave me his address in Nyanya, Abuja and every other attendant information. He even told me to be careful on my way to his house and to be safe on my way there.
Upon getting to the landmark he asked me to stop at, I called him and he took about 5 minutes to get there. We got reacquainted and then set out for his place. It was a short distance to his house.
Around the entrance of the house, he greeted one guy and they talked for a few moments about football. I would later realise that that was Gift Udo giving the other guy the signal that the “victim” had arrived.
When we went inside the house, he locked the door. I was really trapped – and unaware of it.
He offered me a seat and asked if he could get me a drink. Then he initiated a conversation. He prompted me to sit close to him, which I did. Then he asked me to lie on his lap. I politely refused. I hadn’t come to see him with the specific intention of having sex. But I was open to the idea, if I was going to be attracted to him or feel any connection. It would have been my first sexual encounter this year. So in case anything sexual was going to happen, I came with condoms, lubricants, and personal hygiene items, specifically a hand towel, wipes, sanitizer and cologne. All these things were in a portable bag which I often move around with. I also had on me cash, about 1200 naira, my mother’s watch which was technically mine because she’d passed it on to me, my phone, ID card, and wallet containing 3 ATM cards, amongst other things. (I was thoughtless to go out with all this, I know. It’s a lesson learned.)
In less than 10 minutes, a guy suddenly emerged from an inner room, walked right past us and went to the door. I think he went to make sure the door was locked. Then he came back and sat right in front of me, asking, “How far?”
I was already getting scared and I knew immediately that I was in trouble.
The next minute, two more guys crowded into the room, confirming to me that I was most definitely in trouble. Gift Udo then went out, and I thought that maybe, he couldn’t stand to watch his gang deal with me. I was wrong. It turned out that he went to get a knife and he actually inflicted on me the most physical and emotional hurt than all the other guys. The cruelty of his betrayal really hurt me the most.
They started terrifying me and asking questions.
Why you be gay?
Na this thing be your hustle?
How long you don dey do gay?
Wetin you dey enjoy for this thing?
Your family know say you be gay?
How much them dey pay you after you don sleep with man?
You don sleep with woman before?
When you go stop this thing?
You no dey shame for yourself?
Wetin you dey for a living?
Where you dey stay?
Who you dey stay with?
The barrage of questions went on and on, many of them stupid and some of them rhetorical.
They seized my phone and forced me to disable the security on it. They threatened to burn me alive, to cut me up with a machete and a knife. I think what they pretended to be fuel was actually cooking oil.
I believe in God. And somehow, in the midst of all my fear and unease, God gave me peace and told me what I had to do. I had to stay calm and very composed. I didn’t fret. Instead I went into a performance. I began to act like I wasn’t okay mentally. I didn’t move or speak unless I was forced to. Even then, I moved or spoke very sluggishly. This pretending to be mentally disturbed really went a long way in saving me.
They beat me a lot. But I thank God I wasn’t physically injured. Very hot slaps met my face. Very hard blows too. They got my ATM cards and I told them that two accounts out of the three had money in them, one significantly more than the other. They kept on beating me and threatening me. They threatened to put me up in a hotel and hold me hostage for days. They threatened to burn me. They threatened to cut my body into bits. They threatened to expose me. They threatened to hand me over to the police. When this threat was made, I asked to be handed over to the police and their response was a slap for daring to undermine their terror. Like I didn’t fear them enough.
Despite their terror, I believe God made me know that all their threats were empty and that I just needed to keep calm, stay composed. Thankfully, God had worked in me to be a really patient and peaceful person. From being so scared with a heart that was beating very fast, I transformed myself into someone who was centering himself by singing some of my favourite songs in my head until my heart started pacing more normally.
I knew I had to give something up for them to let me go. So I gave up the ATM pin for the account with the lesser money. It had 21,000 naira in it. One of them went out and withdrew all of it.
Surely, I thought, that was okay and I would be allowed to go.
But no; these guys were hungry and greedy. They stripped me naked and forced me to answer questions about being a homosexual while they took a video of the interview, with me holding out those items in my bag. They threatened to share the video to my WhatsApp contacts, Facebook, and the general public. I also felt that this was an empty threat and didn’t buckle. Eventually I was allowed to put my clothes back on.
They beat me some more and tried all they could to make me give up the pin for the ATM card linked to the account with more money. I told them the account was controlled by my elder brother and I didn’t know the pin. So they said I was going to call this brother of mine.
When they asked for his number, I gave them the number of my friend who I trusted would quickly understand the situation I was in and play along as expected. He did not disappoint. He quickly understood what was going on and acted as my elder brother. During the phone conversation, they threatened him with my life and told him to declare the pin. He stalled and stalled and stalled. Very good of him.
During this traumatic period, I nicknamed all the guys who victimized me that day. They were initially four in number, and then they were five.
1. Gift Udo. I nicknamed him the Initiator and Chief Perpetrator of the crime. He is the one I met online.
2. Good Cop. The others called him “Officer.” He played the role of a good cop, trying to make me feel like he would stop them from hurting me any further and protect me, only if I cooperate with him. His act however changed and he became aggressive like the rest of them after it became obvious that I wasn’t going to be as cooperative as he expected. I don’t think he was a real police officer.
3. Bad Cop. This was the one who was signaled by Gift Udo when we were outside. He played the role of a bad cop, trying to break me by constant threats and frequent slaps and hits on the head (with a piece of wood).
4. Dumbo Jackson. I called him this because he seemed really dumb and useless to the group. He wasn’t called into their corner meetings and his opinions barely counted. He copied the information on all my cards and searched my phone for alerts. I usually delete my alerts, but for some reason, I carelessly forgot to delete the recent ones that had come in a few days before and the night before, confirming to them the amount of money I had in my accounts. He also admired my phone a lot. The Jackson part may be because he had a very visible, very large eggplant against his sweatpants. The name I heard them call him and suspect is his real name is Legacy.
5. Consultant. This fifth guy wasn’t part of the gang at first. He was called later to help them hack my bank accounts since they weren’t smart enough to do so themselves.
When the Consultant arrived, they brought him up to speed on all that was going on and he immediately got on with trying to hack that other account. It really was not easy. It was already getting close to five hours that they had me, and apparently, all their previous victims took them very little time to beat up and extort. They were getting tired and frustrated over how much effort they were putting in with me and how it had borne very little fruit – even though the 21 grand they’d gotten was more than enough, in my opinion. All the others had given up except Gift Udo and the Consultant. Those two kept on brainstorming on ways to get into that account. The others – Good Cop, Bad Cop and Dumbo Jackson – started watching TV. Football and Africa Magic. They tried to make me watch with them and invite me into their talk over football. I showed zero interest and continued with my sick/psychologically unstable act. They even started to pity me and offered to buy me food and Malt. One was scared I was a sickler and could die there. This made him urge the others to let me go but those determined two wanted to steal all my money by any means possible.
They eventually managed to get 50,000 naira from the account. They had my phone and the sim card I receive alerts with was in the phone. They used the number to register me for USSD quick banking and used the bank’s transfer code (*737#) to wire 50,000 to my other Access Bank account, the one whose ATM card pin they had. And then, they used that ATM card to withdraw the 50k from a POS money vendor.
So, now, they’d gotten a total of 71,000 naira from me.
It was getting late and they were now ready to let me go. At this point, they were even getting perturbed by how unusual I seemed, compared apparently to all their previous victims. They had a disagreement on whether to give me back my phone or not. None of them seemed to want it, but then, they reasoned that I could use it to track them and cause trouble after. Not sure how they made any sense of that thought, but they eventually didn’t give me my phone back.
They put a cap over my head and two of them escorted me through a back door to a far distance and then put me on a bike to a junction where I’d get a cab home. As we walked to the place where we would get the bike, I tried to negotiate getting my phone back and they tried negotiating how they could get more money. I insisted I did not have the ATM pin. I tried to convince them that I would send money later, after I get my phone and get home safely, but they didn’t fall for that. One of the guys later said he would find a way to contact me and give me back my phone after three days. That never happened.
Altogether, they took from me my phone, 71 thousand naira, my mother’s watch, my ATM cards, and my hand sanitizer spray.
When I got home, I set up security measures to protect the remaining money in that account and I attempted to lock my phone remotely. Thankfully, these worked.
I have tried to narrate my experience, even though I am still getting past the trauma. This incident took place in Nyanya, Abuja, on Friday, the 22nd of May, 2020.
Please, Pink Panther, warn anyone in Abuja to avoid Gift Udo from Akwa Ibom state. His username on 2go (where we met) is gift44645, and his profile name is Gift. He is very dangerous and operates with four other guys in Nyanya part of Abuja.
Written by Gizem
EDITOR’S NOTE: Details of Gizem’s attackers have been published in this previous post.