Nigerian Artist Jekein Lato-Unah Shares Shocking Life Experiences With Humans Of New York @humansofny

Popular Nigerian Artist and painter, Jekein Lato-Unah, shared on Humans of New York, two shocking experiences. The two posts which gathered over 200,000 likes each had Jekein talk about the Nigerian Police and Scam artists, popularly called “Yahoo Boys”.

Shot at by the Nigerian Police

She told Humans of New York, how she had been driving her friend’s Mercedes Benz car when she was stopped by members of the Nigerian police force. They had asked her to get down from the car and then all of a sudden started calling her a prostitute. This was after showing them her Identity Card.

She tried to explain to them that she was an artist, and then they saw her laptop in the back seat and shifted to calling her an internet scammer. Soon, they asked for a huge bribe which she refused to give, and suddenly things escalated quickly.

Then they asked for a huge bribe, and I told them it wasn’t possible. That’s when they cocked their guns at me. One of them got in the front seat. He pointed his gun at me and told me to drive to an ATM. I brought him to this exact spot, and he escorted me to the machine.

I left the car running. I maxed out one of my cards, and told him that I have go back and get another one. Then I locked the door and started driving away. That’s when he started shooting at me! All of this was captured on surveillance cameras. I sped away. I was taking short cuts and back roads. The whole time I was thinking I’m about to get killed.

When I got home, I found four dents in the car from where the bullets hit. Afterwards I contacted the police, and they said they wouldn’t even speak to me unless I deleted the story from social media. I said: ‘I’m not doing that. I’m a law student.

 
 
 
 
 
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“It happened in May. I was driving my friend’s Mercedes to school because my car had broken down. And suddenly I got pulled over. I turned on the interior lights. I showed the policemen my ID. I called my friend on the phone and asked him to explain the situation. But they said: ‘Not enough, get out of the car.’ They started calling me a prostitute. I told them I’m an artist. Then they saw my laptop in the backseat, and they tried calling me an Internet scammer. They asked me to open my computer and type in the password. I told them it wasn’t possible. Then they asked for a huge bribe, and I told them it wasn’t possible. That’s when they cocked their guns at me. One of them got in the front seat. He pointed his gun at me and told me to drive to an ATM. I brought him to this exact spot, and he escorted me to the machine. I left the car running. I maxed out one of my cards, and told him that I have go back and get another one. Then I locked the door and started driving away. That’s when he started shooting at me! All of this was captured on surveillance cameras. I sped away. I was taking short cuts and back roads. The whole time I was thinking I’m about to get killed. When I got home, I found four dents in the car from where the bullets hit. Afterwards I contacted the police, and they said they wouldn’t even speak to me unless I deleted the story from social media. I said: ‘I’m not doing that. I’m a law student.’” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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Her experience with yahoo boys

She also spoke about her experience with “Yahoo boys” (Yahoo Boys is a Nigerian slang for scam artistes). Apparently, these men order for art from her, though they know little or nothing about art. She even gave subtle signs by which one was to know a yahoo boy. According to her, they are always on their laptops, travel in convoys with cars which are all the same color and some of them even have instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. According to her, they also start charities, and never mention where they got their money from.

They never mention where they got their money– but everyone knows. A lot of them buy art from me. Since a lot of their scams are emotional fraud, they’ll even ask me for advice on things that women would say in a relationship.

Or they’ll ask me to pick up their phone and pretend to be a secretary. I never participate. Recently I’ve even stopped selling them paintings. It’s cost me a lot. But I can’t take their money without feeling complicit.

 
 
 
 
 
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“They’re called Yahoo Boys. The name comes from the old days when they used Yahoo email accounts to scam people. I first started seeing them when I went to the University of Lagos. They form little gangs. They travel in convoys where all the cars are the same color. They’re always on their laptops. These days a lot of them are legitimized. They rent office space. They refer to their targets as ‘clients.’ They start charities. They put their fraud money into other businesses. Some of them have Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. They post pictures of their cars and clothes. They never mention where they got their money– but everyone knows. A lot of them buy art from me. Since a lot of their scams are emotional fraud, they’ll even ask me for advice on things that women would say in a relationship. Or they’ll ask me to pick up their phone and pretend to be a secretary. I never participate. Recently I’ve even stopped selling them paintings. It’s cost me a lot. But I can’t take their money without feeling complicit.” (Lagos, Nigeria)

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About Jekein Lato-Unah

Asides being an artist, Jekein Lato-Unah is a Law Students and also belongs to PTNA (Paint The Night Africa). Paint The Night Africa is an organization which organizes painting parties.

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She studied Painting and Photo Reproduction at the Arts Basis Institute, Dubai. Afterwards, she attended an intensive Art program at the Campos Art Dubai. She also studied under Jelili Atiku at the  Goethe-Institut for a Performance Art atelier in November 2016. Soon, she was the Art Director at a Performance Art Exhibition held at theArt House Foundation Residency.

Read Also: Nigerians are not very educated about art, and digital art especially | Morenike Olusanya (aka Renike), A Digital Artist talks about her art and life as an artist in Nigeria

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