Thirty-one-year-old Juliet Arinze has noticed an inexplicable coldness from her husband, Victor, for the last two months and made attempts to find out what the trouble was but all she has got is “nothing.”
Victor, who works with an oil servicing company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is always away from home.
“The two weeks on, two weeks off rotational shift system they do is not really the problem. The problem is that lately, anytime he comes home, he is distant,” Juliet told our correspondent. “Money keeps coming, but it is like my husband is slipping away from my hands everyday and I don’t know why.”
But Juliet said she did not fold her arms. She resorted to investigating the activities of her husband through his cell phone anytime he was at home. Her findings further confirmed her greatest fear.
She said, “There is no doubt my husband is having an affair. The problem is that the last message I read on his phone shows the lady already has a baby for him.
“He doesn’t even bother deleting her messages anymore! In the exchanges they had, he was asking about how a baby was doing and the woman replied ‘we both miss you.’ My husband has continued to tell me that there is no problem so, I don’t want to push him away by accusing him without evidence.”
Juliet and Victor got married in 2008 and have three children. They have both been given pseudo names in this report.
Juliet, who volunteered to tell her story on the condition that her name and that of her husband be concealed, contacted our correspondent later and confirmed that indeed, her husband had a love-child.
How did she do it?
From a booklet of phone codes which she bought in traffic in Port Harcourt, she learnt she could listen to phone calls made on her husband’s phone. She could not resist the temptation.
“From the booklet, I learnt I could monitor his calls through call divert but there is no way he won’t know. A friend later introduced me to an IT expert who installed something on my phone.
“Now, anytime his phone rings, mine vibrates and I monitor his calls. I nearly died when I learnt from his calls that he already had a six-month-old baby with this lady in question.”
Juliet said she had decided to take her findings to her pastor to resolve the issue.
Technology has advanced and while hackers continue to infiltrate systems across the world for money, lovers, husbands and wives on the other hand, are resorting to tapping and hacking mobile devices to catch their unfaithful partners.
Like Juliet, Mr. Peter Ekundayo, sought help from technology when he suspected that his wife, Funmi, was having an affair.
After a short lesson from an IT expert, Ekundayo activated a call monitoring feature on his wife’s phone and caught her red-handed while discussing a rendezvous plan in a hotel with a neighbour she was having an affair with.
Ekundayo, who approached the Customary Court, Ojo, Lagos, for the dissolution of his marriage, told the court that he wanted to take his own life when he heard the discussion his wife had with a neighbour she was allegedly cavorting with at their Iyana-Ishashi home in Ojo area of Lagos.
While on the trail of the so-called IT experts who make a living out of assisting people to monitor their lovers, our correspondent visited the Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos, the centre of all things technology in Lagos, to find out that this trend has become even more common than many would think.
According to Chuks, one of the young men our correspondent spoke with, who combines phone repair with selling cheat codes at the Computer Village, it is an open secret people are not likely to share willingly.
“If you come here and ask for a code that would enable you to listen to someone’s phone calls, it is either we give you the code for call divert or other codes that don’t work. But if you can get someone to trust you and you pay well, then it is no problem, we do it a lot. We have IT boys whom we pay here to do it for us since all of us do not have the expertise,” he said.
Chuks volunteered to take our correspondent to one of such experts, a graduate of Economics who said he only learnt about programming when he could not get a job. Of course, he refused to have his name published.
“Don’t be deceived by those who tell you about one code or another that could let one listen to another person’s calls. Most of them are frauds, you need experts like us to do the job. I can do it for you if you have someone you want to monitor,” he boasted. The ‘expert,’ however, did not forget to chip in an advice, “My brother, it is not worth it though. If a woman cheats on you, cheat on her in return; tit for tat.”
Asked if he knew whether it was possible to hack and read the text messages on someone else’s phone, he said he has not seen such thing before.
For his services, this ‘expert’ said he would charge N10,000. But Chuks later told our correspondent he could get it done at a cheaper rate.
‘More harm than good’
The issue of hacking of phone, according to experts, is a symptom of a larger problem – the breakdown of the fabric of trust which is supposed to hold together every form of relationship, whether platonic or romantic.
A marriage counsellor and pastor, Mr. Bisi Adewale, is of the opinion that there is increasing distrust among couples in the present time, which has to do partly with technology which allows people to be easily deceptive.
He said he had handled cases, in which spouses hacked their partner’s phones, e-mails and that one particular woman even hired a private investigator to follow her husband.
Adewale said, “Three things are responsible for this trend; lack of trust, lack of openness and desperation. When lack of trust builds up in a relationship, at a certain stage, it leads to desperation.
“There is more distrust than in the past now, simply because technology makes it so easy for people to keep secrets. In the past, you could not speak with a girl without her father knowing. Now, you chat with her through text messaging even beside her father. But we cannot blame technology because it is like a sword, it can help and harm.”
Adewale said there is need to be open with one’s spouse.
“I once handled a case of a man who was getting nude photographs from a female colleague who wanted to seduce him. He had to share the information with his wife and sought the help of other colleagues in the office to expose the lady,” he said.
To find out how open young couples are about hacking their partners’ phones, our correspondent spoke with some young men and women, some of whom expressed no reservation in taking such a step.
“I would not think twice about hacking my husband’s phone if I strongly suspect he is lying and cheating on me in a way that could destroy our home,” Opeyemi Aluko told our correspondent, when asked if she would consider such an action.
Even though Aluko explained that her husband of four years does not cheat, her opinion was that “you cannot put anything past men. Men would always be men.”
Thirty-two-year-old Seyi Adamolekun, a laundromat operator, said she once considered monitoring her husband’s calls in their second year of marriage.
“I kept seeing different messages from other women on his phone while he assured me he had nothing to do with them. We started having problems when I complained to his parents and they supported him, saying I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
“I was desperate and needed evidence to show that I was not just being paranoid. But a friend advised against it. Looking back now, I’m glad I did not take that step. Maybe we won’t be together today. We are fine now.”
A young man, Patrick Nelson explained that even though he could monitor his partner’s calls, he would not do it out of jealousy.
“I am not married yet but I know I am not a cheat. If it happens that I have a strong suspicion that my partner is cheating, I would monitor her calls just to get evidence to chase her away.
“A cheating woman can poison you. I would do it for my own safety, not because of mere jealousy.”
Infidelity and ‘celeb’ marriages
Another marriage counsellor, Mrs. Sade Toyin-Kehinde, told our correspondent that trust is flying out of the window in marriages in the society because issues are handled in “wishy-washy manner.”
Having expressed also that there is far more mistrust in marriages nowadays than in the past, Toyin-Kehinde said secrets always destroy marriages and relationships.
Accusation and counter-accusations of infidelity by celebrity couples and individuals, especially in the entertainment industry in the last five years, highlight the issue of mistrust and accusations of infidelity which are upending many marriages in the country.
The reason for the short shelf-life of celebrity marriages in Nigeria seems to revolve around one single theme, infidelity and mistrust.
This brings to mind the 2014 crash of the marriage of popular Nigerian actress, Ini Edo, and a US-based businessman, Philip Ehiagwina, due to “irreconcilable differences.” It did not take long for reports to emerge that the allegation of infidelity, which the actress has vehemently denied, was at the heart of this.
Like other short-lived celebrity marriages in the country, fans of actress, Funke Akindele, woke up to the news in 2013 that barely a year after her wedding to businessman Almaroof Oloyede, after a whirlwind romance, their marriage had hit the rocks. Again, allegation of infidelity against Oloyede, who was reported to have several other children from other women, was touted as the underlying factor.
Before that, the marriage of another actress, Doris Simeon, to Daniel Ademinokan, crashed.” In a 2014 interview with PUNCH, Simeon said, “Everything looked rosy on the outside but not at home. He just woke up one day and decided he didn’t want the marriage again. I can’t say what actually happened. I did not suspect if he was dating any woman or not because we were best of friends and I trusted him too.”
In the case of the 2010 messy marriage break-up of Afro pop star, Abolore Akande popularly called 9ice, and producer, Toni Payne, the allegations went back and forth. Payne alleged a woman, who would later produce twins for 9ice, had been in a relationship with him before their marriage hit the rocks. She was also alleged to have had an affair with Ruggedman, which she had furiously denied.
But the wild fire of marriage crashes has not been limited to the entertainment industry. It has caught on in the houses of God too.
However, these marriage failures are only representative of the numerous unknown others failing due to accusations of infidelity and mistrust in the country. There are no official statistics of divorce rates in Nigeria but it was alarming enough in 2012 for lawyers in Lagos to cry out over the increasing number of marriage crashes.
How bad is phone hacking?
At a Kaspersky Lab Partner programme held in Lagos recently, Kaspersky Lab, a Russian IT security firm said in 2014 alone, 295,000 new mobile malicious programmes were discovered, adding that its security software had fended off about 1.4 million attacks on smartphones.
The spokesperson for the Nigerian Communications Commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, explained that there is need for anyone who is engaged in hacking or who intends to hack a spouse’s phone to understand that it is now a criminal offence in Nigeria due to the country’s cyber crime law.
“As you know, hacking is a global phenomenon, so, it is not just about Nigeria. But it is something a regulator like the NCC is really concerned about. But we are happy there is a basis for the prosecution of anyone caught doing such a thing now,” he said.
Hacking a partner’s phone is madness – Psychologist
Consultant psychologist, Prof. Ayobami Makanju, explained that when couples resort to hacking into their partner’s phones to monitor their calls, there is no longer a basis for being together.
“I think it is madness. If it is as bad as that, then each person should go his or her own way. It is a sign that trust between such people has broken down irretrievably. So, what happens when you get the evidence you are looking for? Now, you have caught him, what next? It is never a solution.”
Adewale also believes that hacking a spouse’s phone does more harm than good.
He said, “Hacking a partner’s phone is never the solution. It always backfires. For instance, in one of the cases I handled, the man simply decided to leave the marriage. He said if his wife could hack his phone, she could also kill him.
“People are becoming smarter. Rather than use a phone to conduct illicit affairs, some are resorting to email.”
Toyin-Kehinde also said the solution lies in spouses trusting their partners even in the face of doubts.
“When issues that could breed distrust come up, it is better addressed headlong in a non-combative manner,” she said.
Phone hacking is criminal – ATCON President
The President of the Association of Telecommmunication Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, told our correspondent that there is a need for Nigerians to understand that a law that criminalises hacking into someone else’s phone now exists.
“Phone hacking was not a crime in Nigeria until recently when the Cyber Security Bill was enacted by former President Goodluck Jonathan,” he said.
In 2014, the Senate passed the Nigerian Cyber Crime Bill into law, making it a criminal offence for anybody to gain an unauthorised access to someone’s device for whatever reason.
Ajayi said, “It is a good thing that we now have such a law. People should be aware of this law because it is new. The media has the responsibility of letting Nigerians know of its existence.
“For whatever reason you may have for gaining an unauthorised access to someone’s device, either emotional, domestic or financial, the law views the act as a serious breach that would attract heavy sanction if reported to appropriate authorities.”
Section 7 of the Cyber Crime Law 2013, states, “Any person, who intentionally and without authorisation or in excess of authority, intercepts by technical means, transmissions of non-public computer data, content data or traffic data, including electromagnetic emissions or signals from a computer, computer system or network carrying or emitting signals, to or from a computer, computer system or connected system or network; commits an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years or to a fine of not less than N5,000,000.00 or to both fine and imprisonment.”
Computer or computer system in the law is explained as “any device or a group of interconnected or related devices, one or more of which, pursuant to a programme, performs automatic processing of data.”