American TV network says Lagos is big for nothing

AS far as a leading American TV network is concerned, Lagos is a big for nothing and crime-ridden city with 20 million people mostly illiterate and poverty stricken, Empowered Newswire reports.

That was how ABC, one of America�s three biggest TV networks, described Lagos in an investigative 20/20 report last Friday evening.

Only last week, Nigeria�s Information Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, and two other collegaues visited the United States capital to launch the Federal Government�s Heart of Africa, which is meant to address the image problem of Nigeria in the US

In a stinging report on 419 fraud among Nigerians at home and in the United States, the ABC report-20/20-an investigative programme broadcast on Friday even played parts of a musical video and soundtrack of the movie, �The Master� which depicted how 419 operatives conduct their fraud.

The report played clips from the film and from the musical video, even drawing from the words used in the musical that 419 victims were the �muguns�, and the 419 operatives the masters. The report blamed the film and the music video for celebrating 419 and treating their kingpins �folk heroes.� The report said the film mocks the �muguns.�

The programme was broadcast on Friday evening, getting US-based Nigerians worried and troubled.

A Nigerian Lawyer in the US said by the next day he had received several calls from his clients and partners asking questions about the report on Nigeria.

Others feared that on resumption of work on Monday, their colleagues would bombard them with all kinds of questions and even negative attitude as a result of the ABC report.

Presented by Brian Ross, the report which took about 30 minutes including commercial breaks, presented how Nigerian 419 agents in the US lay prey for their American victims, showing scenes in Washington DC, Dallas and California where the ABC investigative teams confronted some of them on camera having disguised as willing victims of the 419 game.

At first, the 419 operatives were not aware they were being filmed by undercover cameras. Once they knew they were on films, they turned apologetic and repentant.

The ABC report did not show whether the investigative team turned the 419 operatives to the police.

But the most telling part of the report was the ABC�s team�s visit to Lagos, which the report said, had a population of 20 million. Showing parts of Oshodi, the report described Lagos as a �crime-ridden disgrace of a city.�

Before visiting Nigeria, the ABC news team had played along with the 419 operatives and promised to send advance cash of $12,000 to Lagos after receiving a letter from the email that promised them $25m once they send the advance fee.

The ABC team parked monopoly paper money in a DHL box and sent it to Lagos. They arrived with their teams and proceeded to a DHL office where someone had come to claim the mail and there the ABC team confronted the 419 accomplice who had by now picked up the box mailed by the American reporters from the US.

The ABC report also showed how 419 operatives used Internet cafes in Lagos to send mass e-mails to Americans preying on what the report accurately described as the �greed� of the Americans themselves.

Although the report said there were scams all over the world from Europe to Nigeria, this report focussed primarily on what it called �Nigerian scams.�

Only last week, Nweke while speaking with Nigerian press in the US, said Nigeria continued to be unfairly profiled.

Although he and Nigerians abroad acknowledged the existence of 419 operatives at home and in the US, they still argued that such Nigerians were being isolated in a world where criminals minds are not the exclusive afflictions of one country

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