John Eka Ewa aka John Lyon’s tears offers a simple yet poignant proof of the powerful bond between crime and retribution, cause and effect. The now-viral video of the suspected kidnapper kneeling and pleading for mercy, in abject tears, reproves the masculinity and celebrity culture that fostered him.
It speaks to our direful values and realities. It depicts the awful fragility of repute and toxic manhood. It is a reminder, in a sea of kitsch, of karma’s infinite malice.
The so-called Abuja-based big boy was arrested by the police, on Thursday, September 15, for allegedly belonging to a kidnap syndicate responsible for several high-profile abductions in Bayelsa and other parts of the Niger Delta.
Until his arrest, Lyon, 36, channeled renown by flaunting wads of cash on social media and motivating his followers to “hustle” and work hard. He posted pictures of himself with police orderlies at a political function and a church programme, where he is seen singing intensely and praising God.
He equally brandished an interior design business in Abuja as his source of wealth. Then his cover got blown as a N70 million ransom was allegedly traced to his bank account.
In a viral video after his arrest, Lyon, handcuffed and only in boxers, is seen kneeling on the floor and weeping profusely. He confessed to being a kidnapper claiming that he had only kidnapped two victims. But a man in the video who claimed to be one of his victims insisted that Lyon had kidnapped more than two people. The man narrated how Lyon’s gang abducted him and threatened to kill him if he did not part with a hefty ransom.
A kobo for the thoughts of the bedazzled horde smitten by Lyon’s social media repute and presumed fortune. Another kobo for the indolent herd that let the dubious renown of the Lyons of the world lure them to a dark path.
Predictably, social media has become a hot zone of bickering for conflicting divides among youths – some rationalise Lyon’s resort to crime stressing that the government had offered no enabling environment for the youths to engage in honest endeavour anyway.
A more moral divide argues otherwise stressing that there could be no acceptable rationalisation of his crime. There is, however, a third divide comprising the ubiquitous ‘cruisers’ or infinitely permissive youth segment, out to simply “catch cruise” by glamourising appalling sophistry and justification for the misdeeds of Lyon and his ilk.
There is a lot more ignorant folk debating how to feel and respond to the tragic turn of life for a kidnap kingpin like Lyon. What is apparent is that too many people simply wish to vent and feel gratified – call it an addiction to gratuitous fury. Victim or exploiter alike. Most Nigerians just want to be on the winning side. This mentality has so far foisted on Nigeria a generation of desperate and indulgent youths.
Lyon’s predicament mirrors several young men and teen boys’ frantic lunge for sudden, unearned wealth. In January, Bayelsa teens, Emomotimi,15, Perebi, 15, and Eke, 15, were arrested while trying to use one Comfort, 13, for a money ritual. They reportedly“hypnotized” her and led her to Emomotimi’s apartment, where they cut her finger and sprinkled her blood on a mirror for ritual purposes. The ritual was supposed to make them rich. But for vigilant village youths, Comfort would have been history, perhaps.
A creepier dimension ensued a few days after the arrest of the Bayelsa trio as three other boys between 17 and 20 years were arrested in the early hours of Saturday, January 29, by men of the Ogun State Police Command for allegedly killing their friend’s girlfriend in a money ritual.
The suspects, Wariz Oladehinde, 17, Abdul Gafar Lukman, 19, and Mustakeem Balogun, 20, and the boyfriend of the murdered girl, Soliu Majekodumi, 18, were arrested after they were seen burning something suspected to be a human head in a local pot.
They confessed to beheading Rofiat, who was lured by her boyfriend, Majekodunmi, to where she was murdered by the quartet. They cut off her head, packed her remains in a sack, and dumped it in an old building.
Nigeria evidently careens to the shove of dissembling manhood. Consequently, we suffer a fatal forming of maleness and society. Lyon and the teen ritualists, without doubt, are products of a value system fostered by materialism, lacking in compassion and exemplary filial ties.
Their actions aren’t accidental; from plotting to execution, a hideous smattering of bestiality manifests as their victims’ misfortune and society’s just desserts. Some have labelled them freaks and social accidents, but they are simply karma coming home to roost.
Consider them the monsters we made, casualties of our toxic materialism, cutthroat gender wars, and celebrity culture. They are what we get from society’s virulent remoulding of gender and the precepts of becoming.
Hitherto unacknowledged, today, they manifest as society’s dirty secret. Now, running loose and untethered, Lyon and the boys are not much of a secret anymore; like their kindred spirits among child bandits, teen gangs, and Boko Haram, they are wildly miseducated and fair game in a smorgasbord of spurious labelling.
In their misadventure, however, we encounter afresh, the grotesque evolution of the Nigerian boychild. Culturally benumbed to maleness, he loiters at ethical crossroads. He is stuck at being a man while juggling moral and amoral precepts of his becoming. Through his dilemma, he is thought to scoff at traditional notions of maleness and embrace the dubious redefinition of manhood.
The Nigerian boy’s enthrallment with easy riches is a consequence of the get-rich-quick syndrome pervasive in their immediate society. The malady perpetuates a fable, not of hope, but disintegration. It resonates in wildly covetous youths’ frenetic cry: “Mad o!” in admiration of pestilent quests and attainments by fellow youths – their celebrity heroes and Yahoo Boys (internet scammers) inclusive.
The situation is aggravated by the frantic fostering and cues from mainstream and new media. For instance, several editions of scripted “reality shows” celebrate the preadolescent mind mired in a grave of delusions. Musicians, actors, cross-dressers, and the now ubiquitous “social influencers” participating in such shows personify a very deep cry for help but like Hoyle’s misdirected mortals, they will learn from avoidable mistakes, not from the example posed by the Lyons of the world.
Popular culture’s celebration of grotesque and increasingly infantilised versions of masculinity aggravates the malady – from Nollywood’s neurotic man-boys to the bestial and slacker dudes of feminist-misandrist literature.
Partnership and parenthood, responsibility, and security are projected as stultifying rather than instrumental to adult blooming. The gender wars aggravate this trend, thriving on the insecurities that drive the sexes apart.
The stakes are too high to ignore. If we care about our society, we must pay as much attention to boys as we pay to our girls. The ruckus of degenerate manhood, misandry, and toxic feminism, however, furnish a popular culture that offers young boys a dumbed-down version of masculinity and rhetoric around fatherhood largely predicated on the father’s dispensability and his absence.
Fatherhood is thus redefined in the public mind as an experience of failure rather than success; absence rather than involvement. In the same breadth, masculinity gets redefined as being embarrassingly brutish, effeminate, homosexual, brash, criminal, and incurably dumb.
At his arrest, Lyon cried, “Forgive me, make una forgive me, my wife just born sef, a boy.” And that is in a sense, some new tragedy.
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