By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja
ABUJA (Sundiata Post) Stricken by previous heartbreaks, Anita, 36, a well-earning publicist tried to recast herself in the dating world as a woman in need of masculine protection – even more so because a woman’s legitimacy in a patriarchal society like Nigeria lay in her marital status.
Then she met Akin, 37, a nice guy who helped her meander a difficult driving position in the church car park on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. A church guy in a Mercedes Benz had to be the perfect match for a lady in a BMW; especially when his apparent humility and magnanimity is considered.
Their first date was at a Maitama bar in Abuja; the perfect place to see if generous amounts of libations would offer liberation to his inner demons.
Since their first meeting at the church, they had engaged almost entirely in ecclesiastical texting, including biblical quotations and inspirational nuggets, as brethren should. His gentlemanliness earned him a date, even without asking.
Akin told Anita that he had stopped drinking. So, it was more about getting to know each other on a sober basis.
‘’He played his cards well. I had no way of knowing what I was getting into. I thought I was in luck, but I was a target.’’ Anita told this writer, sitting by the window in a restaurant, looking away desolately.
‘’I fell for him the moment he told me his interests. I fell for how calm he was. He acted very independent and completely assured, unlike men I had met. We loved the same kind of things.’’
Akin’s story was pitch-perfect, and anyone could have fallen for it – one of Abuja’s busiest estate agents; buying and selling properties for the rich; and living off a huge inheritance from a supposedly deceased politician father – a bona fide trust-fund baby.
Anita had her own money and considered herself independent in mind and means, but Akin was taking her places above her pay grade; hobnobbing with major players and shot callers. He was friends with ministers and senators, celebrities and shiny personalities. He quite simply introduced her to the satin lifestyle and she was loving it.
One day, as they lounged on her sofa, starring into bliss, he very casually said, “Let’s talk about building you a house.” The casual way he said this piqued her bemused interest but given the cost of such a project in a city like Abuja, Anita knew she wasn’t at a place where she could afford the investment.
“We could scavenge what we need,” he said, picking up on the lack of belief the look of incredulity her face betrayed. “If we start by acquiring the land and putting a foundation, I could help you meet the rest.”
As his words lingered and took root, the idea started to look a lot less incredulous and more incredibly great to Anita. She felt a combination of trepidation and excitement, as if encountering a species previously thought extinct. She had been with men who really wanted to prove that they were also financially capable, but not one who wanted to build a house with her. His intention to make it ‘their thing’ and his constant and generous use of the pronoun ‘we’ was the real fascination for her. There was a future for them it would seem.
‘’I found his commitment surprising but also alluring. He was confident in his desires, and any lady would like that,’’ she said.
On her first birthday with him, he took her and her friends on a surprise trip to a holiday resort in Benin Republic, accompanied by gifts and emotional assurances. He always told her though he was a minimalist, he would never be cheap when it came to her.
‘’I relished feeling cared for. He was fiscally responsible, generous and trustworthy.’’
Things were working out so well. She was banishing common sense to the background and exorcising doubt like a spirit filled preacher at a crusade. She couldn’t imagine him to be up to anything other than loving her, so much so that when he told her he would like to move into her house, she instantly agreed. Even before it eventually happened, she clung to the idea like a life raft.
She never bothered herself with overthinking when he started asking her for money which was meant for the building project. He told her he’d negotiated a good land deal for her at an almost giveaway price.
‘’He told me the land was supposed to be N15 million, but because of his relationship with the seller, it will be available at N6 million.’’
He told her he would make up the half. So she gave him N3 million with a grateful heart. ‘’The interesting thing was that he took me to see the land. Even when we started building, we were always going there. But it was all an arrangement. He knew enough people to arrange anything. It was a really big business. He had people he was working with,’’ she said.
Within the first six months of the supposed project, she had let go of another N3 million. Her savings gone, but this was, to her, an investment. Stuff always needed to be bought – cement, sand, gravel and all it took to build a house. Even as she sent him money, he always made her realize he was contributing just as much or even more.
The real chaos only began when he made her sell her car because he told her he found a better one for her. Of course she couldn’t afford the N5 million price, but if she sold her car, he would meet the rest. He told her that his friend was bringing the car into the country from America and would need some money to cover shipment and other delivery costs. He sold her car and the new one was to be expected a month after.
After months of no-show, cover up stories and disagreements, Akin finally ghosted. Ghosting, which is a fancy word for disappearing from a lover’s life without notice is one of the many end games of men seeking ladies with a fair bit of material success to scam in Abuja.
Anita was heartbroken – not only left with a gaping hole where love should be, but also an unreplenishable one where her money should be.
The common narratives used to be that of smart ladies luring their rich lovers into an emotional trap that will in turn give them access to their fortunes, but in Abuja, the tables have turned, and these men do it with some finesse, playing multiple women at the same time.
In some cases, the men even play the unsuspecting women into fake marriages; especially the rich, aging and desperate-for-marriage ladies. But the charade ends as soon as fortunes change or enough loot is amassed.
There has been one too many stories of some going as far as killing their lovers if they stood in the way of what’s to come to their pockets.
Nothing gives the men away, especially at the early stages. They tick the right boxes in terms of grooming, confidence and faux wealth. Though broke, they never look it, and can even back up big words with an arranged lifestyle.
They make their way into high society circles, expensive malls, and drive in exotic cars – proceeds of previous love scams.
For Dora, another heartbroken lady who spoke with this writer, her former partner was devious enough to keep his three year old marriage a perfect secret while she introduced him to friends and family with the hope of eternal love.
Several ladies with similar accounts agree that these men seem to always get away with it because of society and that’s why many of them tend to be unapologetic.
On their social media, you will find photos of them enjoying lavish holidays in some of the most exotic locations home and abroad. In such play pretend virtual reality, it is only a matter of time before they carefully choose their targets or are chosen by them.