When I first met Alhaji in Brixton, in 1989, awon boys used to hail him as “Alhaji Tony!”
I noticed that he would always squirm in embarrassment.
I knew something ain’t right, but he was older than me, so I noh dey hail am like so; I jus call him Alhaji.
Then one day, I asked my friend, Power, why dem dey hail am “Alhaji Tony!” and he gave me the whole gist.
This is the gist:
…… In the late ’80’s, Alhaji was a renown and big-time credit card fraudster in South London.
But not in the Hushpuppi Internet fraud mode o.
I noh think say dem don born Ramoni that time sef.
His own specialty was receiving stolen credit cards and selling them on to ready buyers, who will now go and spend the cards in shops, on goods and services.
Back in those days, it was so easy to spend stolen “ike” (Credit Card)
The buyer of the stolen card will just go on a crazy shopping spree for thousands of pounds, before kasala will now burst and the card will either be declined, or retained.
A few times, the spender of the dodgy card might even be arrested, but it rarely happens, except in special cases, like Alhaji’s own.
Before his upgrade into the more rewarding crime of selling stolen credit cards, Alhaji was a small time, third party, ganja seller to the Nigerian smoking clan.
Back then, the simple crime set up in South London, was like this :
Nigerians were into credit card fraud, whilst the Jamaicans were into robbery and selling weed.
No śhaláye about that.
The whole mago mago of credit card fraud seemed too intricate for the Jamaicans then, but my sha pro! pro! brothers and sometimes sisters, fresh off the Nigerian Airways plane from Lagos, Benin and PortHarcourt, blended in to the plastic trade like bread and butter.
Nigerians were the Hushpuppi of South London criminology, with Brixton and Peckham vying for the Headquarters.
Na simple brain work and you know nau, my people noh dey carry last.
Anyways, Alhaji was not that brain-sharp, so he wisely settled for the easier buy and sell marijuana.
However, in the course of his grass entrepreneurial ventures, Alhaji naturally came into contact with the Jamaicans, whose other specialties, apart from Igbo distribution, were burglary, stealing, robbery and sometimes, even murder!
Yes o, murder!
The Jamaicans, or Yardies, were really bad ‘uns in those days.
And they used to be Alhaji’s customers, supplying him weed and also passing on stolen goods, including credit cards stolen from their crime victims, for a small fee.
The Jamaicans didn’t have a clue what to do with the stolen credit cards, but Alhaji knew it was like gold to his Nigeria posse.
Alhaji will now sell the stolen cards to his Nigerian friends, who will in turn “wreck” the cards in shops, hotels, travel tickets, posh restaurants etc….
Designer clothes were the in thing to shop for.
Apparently, Alhaji did not like the fact that he will sell a stolen credit card for £30 and the buyer will now turn up later to sell him designer clothes of over £500, acquired from spending the same card.
He always felt foolish and cheated.
He resolved to do something about the “cheating”
Sooo, one day, the yèyé man decided to leave his comfort zone of selling ganja and receiving stolen cards.
He was going to spend the stolen cards himself!
That morning, he put one of the stolen cards in his wallet, donned his wònyosí lace agbada and hit the shops himself.
“No more nonsense! Ayam going to buy the clothes myself” he threw one side of the agbada over his shoulder. Then the other side; One thousand, five hundred.
The name on the stolen American Express Card®️ was ‘Tony Brown’
However, from the beginning of his new venture, Alhaji was already breaking the cardinal rule of spending stolen credit cards :
Rule Number one :
Dress smartly and sharply.
Don’t wear a native 3-piece àgbádá, to go and spend a stolen American Express Card at Selfridges Store®️ on Oxford street, London.
Especially with the English name ‘Tony Brown’ embossed in gold across the front of the blue plastic.
Most especially, not when you have three expressway Oyo tribal mark lines designed on each cheek of your charcoal black face.
Mba, Alhaji, you will stick out like a sour thumb.
Anyways, to cut the long ‘tory short, na so dem catch Alhaji with the stolen card for Selfridges shop, arrested him and took him down to Bow Street Police Station, Central London.
……”Is this your Credit Card?” the stern looking Investigating Officer interrogated a confident looking Alhaji Musibau at the Police Station, later.
“Yes sir, itzz my card” Alhaji intoned irritatingly.
The look on his face was like “whazz all this nau?”
“Are you sure?” The officer pressed further.
Alhaji glanced down at his fake Rado®️ watch, feigning anger and impatience.
“Whadoyoumean?? Yesh ayam sure!”
“So, what is your full name?” the officer glanced down at the seized stolen card, hiding it from Alhaji Musibau ‘s view.
Alhaji did not hesitate :
“My full name is Anthony Brown, Tony for short”
He almost sounded like a pompous Fiditi Prince.
The officer’s face was blank as he stood up and left the windowless room “ok sir, I will be back”
……Apart from the offer of tea and a lunch of microwaved chicken tikka, Alhaji was left undisturbed in his lonely cell.
Soon enough, his confidence began to reduce, small small.
After about 3 hours of stewing in his buba and sokoto (agbada had been removed and retained at the Sergeant’s counter earlier, together with the rope of his sokoto)
Alhaji was finally invited back to the interview room.
He shuffled in, holding his dropping trousers with one hand.
All the earlier bravado and confidence had disappeared.
He was no longer sure of himself.
He began reciting the Holy Koran to himself, whispering inaudibly.
He looked like a Magu that had jus been been released from a ten day detention.
The tape recorder started rolling :
“For the record, please state your name, sir”
“Ma name is Tony Brown” he hesitated a bit.
Alhaji’s hands were trembling, slightly.
“Do you need a lawyer, as is your right?”
“Speak louder for the tape, please”
“No sir, I do not need a lawyer!” Alhaji raised his voice.
A momentary pause.
“So, where is the body? Where did you hide the body?” The officer’s voice was calm, but emphatic.
Alhaji adjusted his chair, this time sitting on only one side of his buttocks.
“Body ké? Which body? Ayam not understand sir” 🤷🏾♂🤷🏾♂🤷🏾♂
Alhaji Musibau started to sweat profusely. He suddenly felt like going to the toilet; he was feeling piss and shit at the same time.
The officer starred him directly in the eyes
“Yes, the body of Tony Brown that you killed!”
Tony Brown, the name on the credit card !
“Yeh!!! mogbe o! 🙆🏾♂🙆🏾♂🙆🏾♂ killed ké??
“Officer! I does not kill anybody o!!”
Alhaji jumped up from the table, handcuffs jangling in the humid air of the interview room.
The two officers forced him back on to the plastic chair.
“Your game is up Mister. We have investigated the stolen credit card seized from you and traced it to one Tony Brown.
“Tony Brown has been reported missing by his family, since seven days ago”
Alhaji again began reciting fast incantations (ófó) under his breath, catarrh running down his nose.
The officer continued :
“An hour ago, officers forced their way into his apartment, where blood was found splashed all over the bedroom and bathroom floor, but no body was discovered”
“We now have reason to believe that Mr Brown was attacked, abducted and has probably been killed”
Alhaji farted, loudly.
The officer looked straight at a visbly trembling Alhaji and declared:
“This is now a Murder investigation and you are the chief suspect”
One of the officers exclaimed :
“Damn! what is that smell?”
(Small shit had escaped from Alhaji’s body)
…….About 10 minutes later, the ambulance people had managed to revive and stabilise a passed out Alhaji, with artificial oxygen and chest press-downs, after a near fatal heart attack.
He managed to whisper to the officers sitting besides his stretcher, at the back of the siren-blowing ambulance, on it’s way to St Thomas’ Hospital, Vauxhall :
“Eskiss Sir, my name is no more Tony Brown.
“Ma real name is Alhaji Musibau Ishola Owonikoko from Oyo State.
“Ayam a thief by profession.
“I haff been stealing since, from small pickin. I also sell igbo by trade.
Even my parents know ayam a thief.
He switched to Yoruba:
“Èjooor sir, ole ní mí!”
“Ayam a common thief!”
“Please sir! Èjooorrr sir! I haff never killed a somebody in my life before sir!
“Go and check under my bed in Brixton, you wee find stolen credit cards plenty.
“I am a fraudster. Babanla olė ni mí!
“In fact, I am the best thief in London!
“In the roof of ma house, you will find bags of weed, smuggled in from Amsterdam.
“Ekiti weed, the best weed in the whole wide world.
“Yes, I am a drug dealer sir”
È śe mi jéjé!”
“Modárán ní London oooooo!”
Alhaji ‘Tony Brown’ Musibau began to sob again….
To Be Continued in the book:
The Adventures of Mazi
©️Mazi Abe Media 2020.
May your own not be like Alhaji Tony today o
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