Sunday, September 8, 2013

'Nigerian Prince' marries naive Irish girl

by +Brad Naylor

What started as an email scam 2 years ago ended as a royal wedding last month, as Nigerian Prince, Mustapha Abidou of Lagos married Kirsty Charles in her home town of Loughgall, Northern Ireland.

Princess Kirsty and Prince Mustapha Abidou
Now where is that £22 million you promised me in the email?
The couple first 'met' after Kirsty replied to one of Prince Abidou's many emails that he sends out weekly to random strangers, looking to relocate millions of pounds through a foreign bank account. After all his country is being ravaged by civil war and he needs to flee with the royal savings.

His email asked for basic contact details and a bank account into which the huge amount of money could be deposited. All he asks in return is a small international money transfer in order to open a Nigerian bank account to initiate the transfer without alerting the Nigerian authorities, the entire process could proceed.

Kirsty, being a cautious school teacher, requested a photo exchange in order to validate the whole deal. This led to them becoming online friends and soon a romance developed. In October 2012 they actually met face to face for the first time, and according to Prince Abidou, he knew then that she was the one.

Just 10 months later, on August 15th 2013, the couple were married in Kirsty's home town of Loughgall in Northern Ireland, not too far from Armagh. The wedding was a traditional Presbyterian one with the Prince's parents wearing low key Nigerian robes in order to not upstage the bride.

Prince Abidou and his parents, the King and Queen of Lagos
Prince Abidou and his parents, the King and Queen of Lagos
The whole wedding was kept very quiet in order to not cause a huge security surge or infiltration of paparazzi to the sleepy Irish town. "We do not want a lot of media attention," the Prince told Alistair Bushe, a local reporter when he asked why there were no other royals or famous people attending. "Kathy and I - I mean, Kirsty and I just want to exchange our vows and continue living our normal lives".

We spoke with Alistair Bushe, the man responsible for breaking the royal wedding story. He told us that Prince Abidou spoke excellent English with a hint of a London accent, while his parents definitely had a slightly Jamaican lilt to their voices. "They did not strike me as being terribly royal," he said. "They looked like a couple of black people that he had just met and put into some cheap African robes".

Mr Bushe was not the only one who showed concern about the entire wedding. Kirsty's teaching colleague told us that she had met the Prince a few times and had asked him about his homeland of Lagos, and he was having difficulty locating it on a map of Africa. "He was pointing more towards the Ivory Coast and Liberia which are countries further west of Nigeria."

Nigeria is not near Liberia or Ivory Coast
"Prince Abidou could not locate his homeland on a map"
'Princess' Kirsty herself seems convinced that her Prince is genuine and he assures her that she will join him in his palace in Lagos once she has saved enough money to pay for the flight and the visa. According to the Prince, his royal assets are tied up in Nigerian investments which he cannot liquidate because of the unrest in his homeland, and as a person of royal blood he is not allowed to accept payment for work.

To an outsider, the whole wedding seems like one big scam on Abidou's part. An elaborate extension to the typical 'Nigerian Prince' con. The promise of riches and a happy life, which is constantly delayed by various obstacles strewn along the path of an unlikely fairy tale, with each hurdle needing a financial 'fix'.

A conservative estimate suggests that Kirsty has given Prince Abidou £18,000 so far to cover expenses, with another 7 or 8 thousand pounds needed to cover flights, insurance and a visa to get her to Lagos to be with her new husband. This is money that she will get back many times over in 3 years time, when Prince Abidou turns 30 and his investments mature, she hopes.

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