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This House is not for Sale

In Nigeria things that may seem obvious are made more obvious, presumably for the benefit of those for whom the obvious is not obvious! Example, it might seem obvious to me that if a house is not on the market then there will be no signage on its lawn or walls promoting its saleability.  However if you drive around the streets of Lagos in Nigeria you’ll notice that every few houses there is a message written on the wall of the dwelling, usually in large red letters: THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE.

At first this strikes as odd. Then you realise something. A common 419 scam (the name derived from the penal code of this offence in Nigerian law) is the selling, to an unsuspecting victim, of a house that is, in fact, not for sale. The house is shown to the potential buyer from the road, they might even be invited to walk around the house – no doubt some excuse proffered for why they may not actually enter. The transaction complete, deed-of-sale signed and all manner of “legal” documentation crosschecked, money changes hands and the person being scammed is now an owner of a house that was not for sale.

The sign-posts, then, are a gesture from legitimate home-owners to spare those who might fall prey as well as an attempt to avoid messy disputes about who actually owns the house.

Is it a problem when stressing the obvious becomes a necessity?

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