For those in a hurry to make “fast
money”, this journey into the life of Mrs Iyabo Yomi, who became a drug
peddler as a teenager in the 70s would definitely make you want to think twice,
The story of Mrs Iyabo
Yomi is that of an everyday Nigerian teenager in the 70s, who wanted at all
cost to live her dream of climbing up the social ladder. She however took the
Mrs Yomi who is now
over 60 narrated her story to Saturday Sun recently. She started from being an
ambitious teenage girl, drug goon, prison inmate, jail breaker, and then an
ex-convict to a born again Christian.
Her dream of
“making it” quick in life sequel to the fact that everyone seemed to
be travelling to London to further their education or to do business in the
70s, led her to drug peddling.
In her words, “Shortly
after my secondary education in 1975, I told my parents that I wanted to travel
down to London to further my education… Initially, my mother refused,
insisting that I was too young to be alone” Iyabo who became an Alhaja at 18
was later able to convince her mother and off she went to London.
On one of her trips
back to London after she had gathered 500 pounds to start a business, she was
arrested. She was arrested for being in possession of Indian hemp in a parcel
packed by her aunt. Iyabo had innocently collected the parcel not knowing the
content to deliver to her aunt’s friend in London.
While in prison, she
got to know that drug peddling was very lucrative. For Iyabo, this was the
opportunity to afford the kind of life she had dreamt of. She later got
deported to Nigeria, and this marked the beginning of several other drug movimg
trips, jail sentences, prison breaks and deportations.
While in Nigeria, she
soon began to plot schemes on how to start moving Indian hemp to London.
She got another passport with a different
name and business began all over again.
At 26 in 1981, she was
pregnant with her second child and got arrested after a few years of successful
business with the cash rolling in. For the sake of her pregnancy, she was given
suspended sentence and deported to Nigeria again.
Iyabo still did not
show any remorse for her actions, not even for the sake of her children. She
said, “The more they arrested me, the more I became crazy and determined to
continue in drug pushing. I kept strategizing and perfecting my skills. I was
young and very rich. I did not know the value of money then, I was ready to
spend it on anything. At the age of 20, I bought the latest car, BMW sports for
When it appeared that
she had her fill of the United Kingdom, she moved business to the United
States. At the US, she began peddling Heroin. She had had 24 successful trips
before the hand of the law caught up with her.
She sid that, “I was
remanded at MCC in New York and sentenced to five years imprisonment. I was
later moved over to West Virginia prisons in US, where I was to serve my
remaining sentence. It was there that I met a friend from Columbia, her case
was worse than mine. We also hatched a plan and escaped after spending several
months.” She soon found her way back to Nigeria.
Iyabo now the mother of
five in 1999 was ever unrepentant as she moved business to Europe and Asia. She
assumed that money could easily substitute her love and attention for her
children that were left at the mercy of her mother and relatives.
She began to move drugs
from Pakistan to Ghana. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when she
got caught in Ghana admist the rumour that the world was about to end.
She explained that,
“The news was all over the place that the world was coming to an end and I
wanted to spend it with my family. I needed all the money in the world to
celebrate with my family before the world comes to an end as predicted…So, I
moved drugs from Pakistan to Ghana, to sell some over there before coming back
to Nigeria.” In company of her friends that were in the same business, she was
caught by Ghana’s illicit drug control officers.
On September 18, 2000,
Mrs Iyabo Yomi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and moved over to Asawam
female prisons where she met other inmates that introduced her to God. She gave
her life to Christ and became a devout Christian. Mrs Iyabo Yomi decided to
serve her term and turn a new leaf.
According to her, the
condition of the prison in Ghana was really terrible and a contributory factor
to her decision. When comparing the prisons in the US and UK with that in
Ghana, she said that, “In US and UK prisons, the only thing you miss is your
family. You are even more comfortable than most homes in UK and US. You are
even given opportunity to work and support your family from the prison…In
Ghana prison, it was a living hell. About 25 persons were expected to sleep in
the same room with a bucket which was used as a mobile toilet. You can imagine
“I was determined to
change, that was why I chose the best option.”
Iyabo has since 2010
reconciled with her family, after serving her jail term. She is determined to
tell people about the dangers of hard drugs.
Iyabo now shares her
story with people. She is actively involved in Livewire International
Organisation founded by Arthur Judah Angel. The organisation champions rehabilitation
of in-and- out of prison inmates.
On a final note, Iyabo
tells those in drug peddling to desist. She said: “It is bad, you will forever
live with consciousness that you have destroyed so many lives.
Experience is not
necessarily the best teacher!