A spiritual dimension to cybercrime in Nigeria: The ‘yahoo plus’ phenomenon

Oludayo Tade 1
  • 1 Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


Cybercrime in Nigeria is largely perpetrated by young people and students in tertiary institutions, and are socially tagged yahoo yahoo or yahoo boys. Yahoo boys rely on their computer dexterity to victimise unsuspecting persons in cyberspace. A new phenomenon in cybercrime is mixing spiritual elements with internet surfing to boost cybercrime success rates. This paper examines the factors underlying this spiritual dimension (cyber spiritualism) to cybercrime, and discusses some of the strategies employed in perpetuating cyber crime. Using Space Transition Theory of cybercrime, data were generated on yahoo boys and those involved in yahoo plus. The clampdown on Internet fraudsters by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in-group conflict among yahoo boys over social recognition, reduced victimisation and delayed success, and mass media enlightenment were reported factors influencing the fusion of spiritual elements in cyber crime. The methods used include ase or mayehun (incontrovertible order), charmed or magical rings (oruka-ere) and incisions made around the wrist, which are used to surf the net, while ijapa (tortoise) is used to navigate profitable sites. Unsuspecting victims fall under the spell of the ase via phone conversation where spiritual orders are made to the victims without their objecting.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Abiodun, R. (1994). Understanding Yoruba Art and Aesthetics: The Concept of Ase. African Arts 27(3), 68–78. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3337203

  • [2] Adamski A. (1998) Crimes Related to the Computer Network. Threats and Opportunities: A Criminological Perspective. Helsinki, Finland: European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI). Retrieved on December 15 2006, from http://www.ulapland.fi/home/oiffi/enlist/resources/HeuniWeb.htm

  • [3] Adeniran, A. (2008). The Internet and Emergence of Yahooboys sub-Culture in Nigeria. International Journal of Cyber Criminology (IJCC) 2 (2), 368–381.

  • [4] Adomi, E., Igun, S. E. (2008). Combating Crime in Nigeria. The Electronic Library 26, 716–725. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02640470810910738

  • [5] Alubo, O. (2011). The Public Space in Nigeria: Politics of Power, Gender and Exclusion. Africa Development XXXVI, 1, 75–95.

  • [6] Abimbola, W. (1975). In W. Abimbola (Ed.). Iwapele: The Concept of Good Character in Ifa Literary Corpus Yoruba Oral Tradition: Selections from the Papers Presented at the Seminar on Yoruba Oral Tradition: Poetry in Music, Dance and Drama, pp. 388–420. Ile Ife.

  • [7] Akiwowo, Akinsola A. (1983). Ajobi and Ajogbe: Variations on the Theme of Sociation. Ife: University of Ife Press.

  • [8] Atolagbe, A.M.O. (2011). Security consciousness in Indigenous Nigerian Houses: A Preliminary Survey of Yoruba Ethno-medical Devices. Ethno Med 5(1), 57–62.

  • [9] Awolalu, J. Omosade (1979). Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites. Essex: Longman Group Ltd.

  • [10] Ayoade, J. A. A. (1978). The Concept of Inner Essence in Yoruba Traditional Medicine. In Z. Ademuwagun et al. African Therapeutic Systems, pp. 125–131. Waltham.

  • [11] Basden, G. T. (1921). Among the Igbo of Nigeria. Lagos: University Publishing.

  • [12] Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.). Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, pp. 241–258. New York: Greenwood.

  • [13] Chriss, J.J. (2007). The Functions of the Social Bond. The Sociological Quarterly 48, 689–712. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2007.00097.x

  • [14] Cohen, A. (1966). Politics of the Kola Trade: Some Processes of Tribal Community Formation among Migrants in West African Towns. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 36(1), 18–36. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1158126

  • [15] Coomson, J. (2009). Cyber Crimes in Ghana. Ghanaian Chronicle, 4 October 2006, from http://allafrica.com/stories/200610040856.html.

  • [16] Dalal, P. (2006). Wireless Security: Some Measures. Computer Crime Research Center. Retrieved June, 5, 2007, from http://www.crime-research.org/articles

  • [17] Danquah, P., Longe, O. B. (2011). Cyber Deception and Theft: An Ethnographic Study on Cyber Criminality from a Ghanaian Perspective. Journal of Information Technology Impact 11, No. 3, 169–182.

  • [18] Dana, D.A. (2001). Rethinking the Puzzle of Escalating Penalties for Repeat Offenders. Yale Law Journal 110, 733–783. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/797607

  • [19] Durkin, Keith F., Craig J. Forsyth, and James F. Quinn (2006). Pathological Internet Communities: A New Direction for Sexual Deviance Research in the Postmodern Era. Sociological Spectrum 26,(6), 595–606. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02732170600948857

  • [20] Dyrud, M. A. (2005). I Brought You Good News: An Analysis of Nigerian 419 Letters. Proceedings of the 2005 Association for Business Communication Annual Convention, Irvine, CA, October.

  • [21] Fadipe N.A. (1987). The Sociology of the Yoruba. Ibadan: University Press

  • [22] Foster, G. M. (1976). Disease Etiologies in Non-Western Medical Systems. American Anthropologist 78, 773–82. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/aa.1976.78.4.02a00030

  • [23] Gaviria, A., Raphael, S. (2001). School-Based Peer Effects and Juvenile Behavior. The Review of Economics and Statistics 83,(2), 257–268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/00346530151143798

  • [24] Harnischfeger, J. (2006). State Decline and the Return of Occult Powers: The Case of Prophet Eddy in Nigeria. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (Summer 2006). University of Pennsylvania Press.

  • [25] Jaishankar, K. (2008), Space Transition Theory of Cyber Crimes, Crimes of the Internet, Pearson, ISBN-13:978-0-13-231886-0, pp. 283–299.

  • [26] Jaishankar, K. (2010). The Future of Cyber Criminology: Challenges and Opportunities. International Journal of Cyber Criminology 4, 26–31.

  • [27] Kshetri, N. (2006). The Simple Economics of Cybercrime. IEE Security and Privacy. Retrieved from www.computer.org/security.

  • [28] Longe, O. B., Chiemeke, S. C. (2008). Mediated Cyber-Crime: An Investigation of the Role of Internet Access Points in the Facilitation of Cyber Crime in Southwest Nigeria. European Journal of Social Sciences 6, 466–472.

  • [29] Mbiti, S. J. (1978). Introduction to African Religion. London: Heinemann.

  • [30] Melvin, A. O., Ayotunde, T. (2011). Spirituality in Cybercrime (Yahoo Yahoo). Activities among Youths in South West Nigeria. Google books.

  • [31] McCall, J. C. (2004). Juju and Justice at the Movies: Vigilantes in Nigerian Popular Video. African Studies Review 47, 51–67.

  • [32] McCusker, R. (2006). Transnational Organised Cyber Crime: Distinguishing Threat from Reality. Crime, Law and Social Change 46, no. 4–5, 257–273.

  • [33] McKenzie, S. (2000). Child Safety on the Internet: An Analysis of Victorian Schools and Households using the Routine Activity Approach. A Thesis submitted to the University of Melbourne, February, 2000. Retrieved on December 15 2006, from http://www.criminology.unimelb.edu.au/research/internet/childsafety/index.html

  • [34] Norton Study (2012). Consumer Cybercrime estimated at $110 billion annually. www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20120.

  • [35] Nurth, M.S. (2008). Taking Advantage of New Techonologies: for and against Crime. Computer Law and Security Report 24(5), 437–446. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clsr.2008.07.003

  • [36] Nwolise, O.B.C. (2012). Spiritual Dimension of Human and National Security. Eighteenth Faculty Lecture Series, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan (April 26, 2012).

  • [37] Oumarou, M. (2007). Brainstorming Advanced Fee Fraud: ‘Faymania’—the Camerounian Experience. In N. Ribadu, I. Lamorde and D. W. Tukura (Eds.). Current Trends in Advance Fee Fraud in West Africa, pp. 33–34. Nigeria: EFCC.

  • [38] Oyenuga, A.S. Odunaike, B.A., Olaitan, M.F. (2012). Information Communication Technologies’ Time-Space Distanciation and Crime in Lagos. Nigerian Journal of Sociology and Anthropology 10, 151–163.

  • [39] Payne, N. (1992). Towards an Emancipatory Sociology: Abandoning Universality for the True Indigenization. International Sociology 3, 161–70.

  • [40] Parker, D. B. (1976). Crime by Computer. New York: Scribner.

  • [41] Ratliff, E. (2005). The Zombie Hunters: On the Trail of Cyber Extortionist. The New Yorker, (2005, October 10), pp. 44–49.

  • [42] Rogers, M. (2001). A Social Learning Theory and Moral Disengagement Analysis of Criminal Computer Behaviour: An Exploratory Study. PhD Dissertation. University of Manitoba, Winnipeg Manitoba.

  • [43] Rubin, A. (1989). Art as Technology: The Arts of Africa, Oceania, Native America, Southern California. In A. Rubin and Z. Pearlstone (Eds.). Beverley Hills, CA, pp. 133–138.

  • [44] Simpson, G.E. (1980). Yoruba Religion and Medicine in Ibadan. Ibadan University Press

  • [45] Skinner, W. F., Fream, A.M. (1997). A Social Learning Theory Analysisof Computer Crime Among College Students. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 34(4), 495–518. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022427897034004005

  • [46] Smith, D. J. (2007). A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  • [47] Tade, O. and Aliyu, I. (2011). Social Organisation of Cybercrime among University Undergraduates in Nigeria. International Journal of Cyber Criminology 5, 860–875.

  • [48] Talbot, P. A. (1923). Life in Southern Nigeria. London: Macmillan.

  • [49] Thompson, R. F. (1983). Flash of the Spirit. New York: Vintage.

  • [50] Warner, J. (2011). Understanding Cyber-Crime in Ghana: A View from Below. International Journal of Cyber-Criminology 5(1), 736–749.

  • [51] Wolff, N. H. (2000). The Use of Human Images in Yoruba Medicines. Ethnology 39,3, 205–224. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3774107

  • [52] Yar, M. (2005). The Novelty of Cybercrime: An Assessment In Light Of Routine Activity Theory. European Journal of Criminology 2(4), 407–27 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/147737080556056

  • [53] Vanguard (2012). Woman, 70, killed for alleged witchcraft. http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/07/woman-70-killed-for-alleged-witchcraft/

  • [54] Daily Post (2012) Suspected labour party thugs attack NURTW member, PDP Candidate escapes Death in irele, Ondo state. http://dailypost.com.ng/2012/07/31/suspected-labour-party-thugs-attack-nurtwmembers-pdp-governorship-candidate-escapes-death-irele-ondo-state/

  • [55] People’s Daily (2011). Nigerian police arrest 133 suspected political thugs in northern state. Retrieved from: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/7364476.html

  • [56] Punch Newspapers (2012). EFCC convicts 288 Internet Fraudsters. April 17, 2012.

  • [57] PM News (2011). Police Parades 19 suspected political thugs. http://pmnewsnigeria.com/2011/03/29/policeparade-19-suspected-political-thugs/


Journal + Issues

Postdisciplinary international journal for humanities and social sciences is published in English by the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia. The underlying editorial strategy is to advance human self-understanding and communication via publishing innovative theoretical, interpretative, critical and historical contributions transcending traditional disciplinary and cultural frontiers.