The past few weeks have been pretty chill.
I got this serviced apartment here at Victoria Island Lagos, to stay for a bit.
I do not earn a monthly salary. Every now and then money comes into my life somehow, and then I’m responsible for staying alive and well until the next financial inflow.
I initially paid for a week or so. I don’t have enough money to pay for a longer stretch of time at once. Maybe I might if I put my mind to it, but I’m still raw from my last attempt at trying to rent a space nearby. At Lekki Phase 1.
I paid N400,000 into the bank account of the real estate agent. The “Mr Olu” who walked me into the compound, greeted the security guard, opened the doors to the apartment, and showed me around.
N400,000 was supposed to be rent for a year. Or six months I think. I’m not sure now.
That was last year. I never got to move into the apartment. I never saw “Mr Olu the real estate agent” again. I later realized that the email address with which he corresponded with me, was different from that on the agency banner hung out on the building’s front gate.
Say the banner of the actual real estate agency had the email “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This guy’s email was “email@example.com”.
The second email has two “g”s.
I knew his email address was weird, but I assumed it was because the intended one was already taken. That can definitely happen with email addresses.
So I thought he was just making do with an address which was lexically similar. What I did not notice at the time, was that the email on the actual agency banner did not have that anomaly.
I mean, it’s not like you scrunch up your nose to scrutinize every letter in the email address on some banner outside the building where you intend to rent a space.
All of that was last year.
I went to the bank to make a complaint. They said they would freeze the recipient account, and that the fraudulent guy wouldn’t be able to withdraw the funds.
That was good to hear. They said to recover the money I would need to contact the Police. The Police had the authority to request a reversal of the funds transfer.
I stopped by the Police station to narrate my ordeal. At some point they said there was a special department that dealt with digital fraud and stuff. Said I would have to pay about N200,000 for a start, to access the services of this department.
I was trying to recover N400,000. To do that, I had to pay the Police N200,000.
For a start.
I took some time to weigh my annoyance. Was I angry enough at Mr Olu to undertake such expenses even if they could eventually add up to, or even exceed the amount I was trying to recover?
Hmm. I didn’t think so.
In all it was a very confusing experience.
It all felt so legit. I’m still not sure if I was intentionally dispossessed of the funds, or if there was some sort of a misunderstanding.
Like, there was another guy- some like, seventy year old man I spoke with on the phone.
He said he was the owner of the house. The Landlord. Mr Olu was just the agent. Helping him get new tenants. The “landlord” was asking me questions like:
“Hope pe iwo o kin p’ariwo ninu ile? Awa o like ariwo o.”
“I hope you don’t make noise where you stay? We don’t like noise makers here o.”
Like, how can a seventy something year old man who asks such questions, and who sometimes doesn’t answer my calls because he says he’s in the mosque, not be legit? How?
I don’t understand. I honestly don’t.
At some point I called the numbers on the actual real estate banner. Some guy responded on the other end. Said he was the one the agency was named after. That he was Mr Olu. The real Mr Olu.
I told him someone was impersonating him. I spent some time expressing my frustration and annoyance on the phone. He said all that was difficult to believe, because I was the first person to make such a complaint. Sensible point. But not at all placating for me.
Honestly it was this whole annoying episode. I’ve just had to take my mind off it, and pay attention to more inspiring and encouraging things.
Mr Olu. Has his office on Lagos Mainland. At Palmgrove. Talking to me and showing me around the apartment like a responsible human being. Fraudulent motherfucker.
It was to my utmost shock, that the security guard said he didn’t really know the fake Mr Olu. Said he was just some guy walking by the house, who proposed to show some prospective tenants around.
The fact that he had access to the building and keys to the apartment gave me the impression he was undoubtedly legit. Legit to the point that I thought he would feel insulted if I asked too many questions.
I’ve been trying to buy a motorbike. A cool dual-terrain kinda bike. I’m looking forward to some off-roading soon.
I found this guy on Jiji.ng. Jiji.ng is like the Nigerian EBay. He had a cool Scrambler for sale. I liked it. He was located in Abuja, the country’s capital.
While I made preparations to send him the funds for the purchase and delivery of the bike, he was telling me stuff like “Don’t worry, there’s no problem. I’m a family man.” to increase my confidence in him.
Mister Olu was very likely a family man too.
Bruh, I’ve been swindled by family men, don’t even go there. Don’t even try that line on me Mister Man.
My N400,000 from last year is still nowhere to be found.
It recently occurred to me to call Mr Dayo.
Mr Dayo from the Psych Ward. The fellow inpatient.
The sixty year old ex-hockey coach.
The last time I saw him, I was at the hospital for a post-hospitalization checkup. So the doctors could see if I was properly recovering from a mental illness I never had in the first place.
Mr Dayo was sitting on a chair in the walkway. Looking very relaxed. We spoke for a bit. He seemed very comfortable and chill. I had collected his phone number earlier. I said I was going to call him later, after he had been discharged.
That was close to two years ago.
I haven’t exactly been in the frame of mind to make the call. I’ve been dealing with struggles of my own:
So, post-hospitalisation, my parents enrolled me in a university.
It’s this university that’s owned by this pretty prominent church in Nigeria. The church’s ideology is principally based on concepts like deliverance from demonic oppression and the breaking of ancestral curses and the holy murder of destiny-devouring witches and other such esoteric phenomena.
The university was founded by, and is managed by the church.
At 5AM every morning all of the students gather in the chapel to cast and bind some demons real quick before commencing the day. Repeated failure to report at the chapel could get you suspended.
On average, students spend about 2+ hours everyday collectively binding and casting out demonic powers.
And that is just the very tip of my disconcertion iceberg with regard to that university.
I would never in my right senses have agreed to be enrolled there. But I was fresh out of Psych Ward. Fresh out of 3-months of daily antipsychotics, and full of daily-reinforced doubt in my decision-making abilities:
I obviously didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Everyone obviously knew what what was good for me. Everyone except for me myself.
A couple months after being discharged from the Psych Ward, I ditched my supply of antipsychotics and lost all of the Psych-Ward weight. I gradually became more and more certain that the entire Psych Ward thing was Bullshit. And I became angry at everyone who made it or let it, happen.
I’m going to call Mr Dayo today.
I’m chilling in this alright apartment at Victoria Island. I have no serious doubts with regard to my sanity or mental wellbeing, and I’m plotting some schemes to enable me discontinue my enrolment at that soul-eroding university.
Life is good.
I call Mr Dayo’s number.
The phone rings for a bit.
Someone answers. It is a woman’s voice.
This post is one in a Series. Feel free to view the other pieces here.
Image: On the balcony of a room at the Prest Waterfront Hotel, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.